Wyche: Falcons’ Jackson still awaiting ruling

NFL.com Senior Writer Steve Wyche on Falcons DT Grady Jackson:

While six players were handed four-game suspensions by the league on Tuesday for violating the NFL’s banned substances policy, Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jackson, who, like the others, tested positive, escaped discipline – for now. Jeff Pash, NFL Executive Vice President of Labor and League Counsel, deferred a decision on Jackson’s appeal pending further information that has been requested, according to league spokesman Greg Aiello.

Jackson is allowed to play but he could face discipline down the line. Whether that could affect his ability to participate in the playoffs should Atlanta advance to postseason play has yet to be determined.

“I’m happy that the NFL felt good about my appeal,” Jackson told me on Tuesday. “It’s pretty hard to really say anything though because of what happened to the other guys and what they’ve got going.”

Jackson said that he thinks he wasn’t disciplined because his argument at his appeal was that he took the supplement StarCaps, a diuretic that contains the banned ingredient Bumetanide, for health reasons, not to lose weight. The 360-pound Jackson did not disclose his health issues but sounded as if he felt comfortable that he won’t face any sanctions.

Bumetanide is banned because it can be used as a masking agent for, among other things, steroids. StarCaps are considered a “water pill” that helps players lose weight rapidly.

As I previously reported in an article I wrote Nov. 12, the league does have a “therapeutic-use exemption,” for players who take a medication for health purposes that contains a banned substance. The policy, according to Adolpho Birch, the NFL’s vice president of law and labor policy, was for medications. Since Jackson took a supplement, his argument could have been compelling enough to fit under the therapeutic-use exemption – if Jackson’s belief as to why he escaped punishment is valid.

Jackson has filed a lawsuit against the makers of StarCaps, claiming it knowingly sold a supplement containg a substance banned by the NFL. Jackson did not say if he was still taking the supplement. The only supplement company authorized by the NFL is EAS Sports. StarCaps is not an EAS manufactured product.

That Jackson will not be lost, for now, is good news for the Falcons, who will retain their best interior run-stuffer. Jackson has 19 tackles and one sack.

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