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Josh Gordon’s One-Year Ban Comes From Questionable Positive Test

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio dropped a rather major bomb around the football world today. The often-criticized scribe indicated that Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon only “partially” failed the drug test that that will likely cost him the entire 2014 season barring a late-minute appeal on Friday. 

And the specifics are rather alarming. 

According to the source, Gordon has passed at least 70 drug tests. One test barely generated a positive. And but for the 50-50 luck of the draw, it would have been a negative.

That’s seven months or so of negative drug tests from the time that Gordon was popped for use of codeine-laced cough cyrup. And for the 50-50 aspect of Florio’s report, it’s a doozy.

Urine samples routinely are split into two bottles, the “A” bottle and the “B” bottle. If the “A” bottle generates a positive result, the “B” bottle is tested. Amazingly, the “B” bottle doesn’t have to independently show a violation. Instead, the substance abuse policy states that the “‘B’ bottle Test need only show that the substance, revealed in the ‘A’ bottle Test, is evident to the ‘limits of detection’ to confirm the results of the ‘A’ bottle Test.

Gordon’s positive test came from bottle “A,” which means that whatever the second bottle showed had no impact on the positive test. Unfortunately, bottle “B” showed that Gordon was under the nanogram per milliliter above the limits of 15. If the bottles were labeled different or the individual conducting the test had put the urine sample in the second bottle, not the first, Gordon wouldn’t be facing a one-year suspension. Heck, he wouldn’t be facing a suspension at all.

It’s also important to understand that if the NFL and NFLPA had come to an agreement on HGH testing during the CBA negotiations, the intial bottle that Gordon tested positive for would have actually been a negative. Under that proposed provision, the league was willing to up the amount of marijuana a player could have in his system without being disciplined by the league.

In any event, Gordon’s appeal will come on Friday. His attorney, Maurice Suh,  helped Richard Sherman skirt a four-game suspension due to a technicality in the PED testing back in 2012. If this report is true, Suh will have a better argument on behalf of Gordon than he did when he represented Sherman. With that said, Sherman’s case represented a technicality. There is no evidence that anyone testing Gordon’s urine mishandled his sample. If that’s the case, the Browns receiver will likely see his suspension uphled on appeal come Friday.

Photo: USA Today