Pro Athletes Can Challenge Drug Suspensions In State Court, Bypassing League Rules

nfl tbi

Pro sport collective bargaining agreements may have to bow to the strong arm of local law.  

A ruling by a federal circuit court last week appears to allow NFL, MLB and NHL players to challenge doping suspensions in state court. 

NYT:  A three-judge panel from the United States Court of Appeal for the Eighth Circuit, in Minneapolis, last week upheld a lower court ruing that prohibited the N.F.L. from suspending two Minnesota Vikings players who violated the league’s antidoping policy, saying they could contest their suspensions in state court.  The ruling was a victory for the players because Minnesota state laws — and laws in about half of all states — are considered worker-friendly and say that an employee cannot be penalised for an initial positive drug test.

Read rest of the story here.

The other professional sports leagues and the US Anti-Doping Agency filed amicus briefs, apparently worried about the far-reaching aspects such a finding could have.  The take-away is that players whose teams are based in more employee-friendly states may get to finish out a season, even post-positive drug test, while any appeals work their way through their respective state court system.  

While a football player taking the field immediately following a positive steroid test sounds strange, the basis of the ruling is pretty banal – a national computer company cannot avoid the state laws at its various branches just by setting company-wide policy.  

As the article points out, this won’t likely mean drug abusers suit up without a care in the world; challenging the results of a drug test one knows was positive for a reason is usually a losing battle, and public one. Voluntarily adhering to league policy may be the quieter – and cheaper – way to go.  

Of course, avoiding using banned substances altogether works, too.  

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