Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Just when everything was looking good for the Saints, they were hit with a completely unfair suspension.

Defensive tackle Hollis Thomas has been suspended for four games for violating the NFL's steroid policy. A test revealed the presence of substances on the NFL's banned list. He had the support of the Saints and had been challenging the positive test all season, but his appeal lost out. He will miss the final four games of the season.

As for the illegal steroids he was taking: They are called fluticasone and galmetrol. Maybe you've seen these two drugs, which are both in the same product, advertised.

Thomas suffers from asthma, which became aggravated during his first training camp in the south. His doctors put him on an aggressive treatment so that the 300-pound player could breathe. Unfortunately, the NFL didn't take that into account.

The Mailbox is furious with the NFL for this suspension. The steroid policy is to prevent players from using steroids to gain muscle mass or strength. Using steroids for those reasons would be an unfair advantage. But Thomas didn't use steroids to beef up (the Times-Picayune notes that tests for those turned up negative). He didn't use them to get an unfair advantage.

He used them so he could breathe.

Is the NFL telling the Mailbox that Hollis Thomas is so good that if he's able to play AND breathe properly, it's an unfair advantage? PLEASE. And because of the violation, Thomas is now corraled into the same herd as Shawne Merriman and others who DID use steroids to beef up.

Where Major League Baseball's drug policy has been attacked for being too lenient, the NFL's policy should be checked for being too strict. Full disclosure: The Mailbox is a diehard Saints fan and is asthmatic, so you're getting a double dose of bias. But, desiring to breathe while playing should not be considered using drugs for an unfair advantage.

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Now if you can use your journalistic powers for good and begin a firestorm that even if it can't immediately fix Hollis Thomas's world, can open the door for the next pro ball player/asthmatic to get a fair shake in the NFL with regards to medication, the world might be a better place.

Geaux Saints!
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