NEW YORK -- Walter F. Riker Jr., a pharmacology professor who became the first drug adviser to the NFL, died Feb. 20 at a Manhattan hospital. He was 87.
A specialist on the effects drugs have on muscular and neuromuscular systems, Dr. Riker began working for the National Football League in 1973 and established a system requiring team doctors to report when they prescribed antibiotics, painkillers, and other medications to players. Over the years, Dr. Riker also helped the NFL address cocaine and steroid use. In 1990, after Dr. Riker warned that steroids could lower sperm counts and alter liver function, the league began random testing.
A resident of Fort Lee, N.J., Dr. Riker taught at Cornell's medical college and became chairman of its pharmacology department in 1956. He retired from the medical college in 1983. A year later, he retired as the NFL's drug adviser.
According to The New York Times, Dr. Riker leaves his wife, Virginia, of Fort Lee; three sons, Donald, of Chattanooga, Tenn., Walter F. III of Aurora, Ill., and Wayne, of San Diego; a brother, William, of Lake Oswego, Ore.; a sister, Virginia Heubner of Wells, Maine; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.