Raji says he hasn't been told he failed drug test
Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji, who as of last week was projected as a top-10 selection in this month's NFL draft, said yesterday he has not been informed of a failed drug test from the NFL Combine.
A story posted on the website of Sports Illustrated last Thursday cited unidentified sources claiming that Raji tested positive for an undisclosed drug. Speaking yesterday to the Santa Rosa (Calif.) Press Democrat while making a predraft visit with the San Francisco 49ers, Raji expressed displeasure with how the report spread quickly.
"The biggest thing is trying to figure out how this started," he told reporter Matt Maiocco. "I couldn't understand how this rumor became such a big splash in the media when there was no evidence - there was no substance to believe it. The last couple days, I was just trying to figure out: Who? What? Basically, why?
"Now, I'm happy the truth is out. Obviously, it's not going to be as big of a splash as the negative part. But as long as the coaches and the decision-makers know what is true, then I don't need to be concerned with everybody else."
According to Brian Murphy of Athletes First, which represents Raji, the firm received an e-mail from the parent company of Sports Illustrated saying the story would be removed from si.com.
The NFL informs players who failed tests in writing, and Raji said he had not been so informed, although it is not clear whether all players who failed drug tests have received their notification.
NFL teams annually receive a confidential list of players who failed drug tests, and that list has yet to be distributed this year.
A failed test presumably would hurt Raji's chances to be a top-10 draft pick, and cost him millions of dollars. As reported on Sports Illustrated's website last week and confirmed by the Globe, NFL teams have already been informed that Raji tested positive for marijuana while at Boston College.
Raji isn't the only player reported to have failed a drug test at the Combine. NFLDraftbible.com reported last week that six players failed tests for marijuana or steroids, and the stories swirled to the point that the NFL released the following statement last week:
"Neither the 32 clubs nor the league office know the results of drug or steroid tests taken at the 2009 Combine. The independent medical advisors who administer the tests have notified in writing those players and only those players who tested positive at the Combine.
"Unfortunately, rumors about draft-eligible players, including rumors about test results, begin to circulate every year at this time. Many of these rumors are circulated for self-serving reasons and they are terribly unfair to the players and their families."
Athletes First said in a statement this week that Raji has not received any notification. Furthermore, the statement indicated that Raji attempted to contact the medical advisers' office to confirm that no letter had been sent, but had yet to receive a return call. Raji and his agents deduce that the lack of contact indicates that Raji did not fail the drug test.
"That Dr. [Laurence] Brown will not talk to B.J. - as Dr. Brown would otherwise be expected to do under the NFL Substance Abuse Policy if B.J. had failed a drug test or being sent a letter directing him to contact the medical advisor's office - is further proof that these reports are untrue," the statement read.
"In short, and as we have known all along, the media reports accusing B.J. of a failed drug test at the Combine are false. Given the cowardly attacks and damage to B.J.'s character as a result of these vicious rumors, we sincerely hope that the responsible parties are discovered and held accountable for their actions."
Mike Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.