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Friday, December 12, 2008

Minnesota judge extends injunction against NFL suspensions

A federal judge extended his preliminary injunction against the NFL's suspension of five players for violating the league's anti-doping policy, a move their lawyer said will let them play the rest of the season.

In his ruling Thursday, U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson asked both parties to propose a schedule by Dec. 22 for further proceedings that would lead to an eventual hearing on the merits of the case, a process that could take months. The regular season ends Dec. 28.

Kevin Williams and Pat Williams of the Minnesota Vikings and Charles Grant, Deuce McAllister and Will Smith of the New Orleans Saints were suspended last week for four games each. They tested positive during training camp for a banned diuretic, bumetanide, in the dietary supplement StarCaps.

Bumetanide can be used as a masking agent for steroids. Diuretics are also used to quickly shed weight. The StarCaps label didn't list the diuretic as an ingredient.

"The players and the union are thrilled," Jeffrey Kessler, an attorney for the NFL Players Association, told The Associated Press. Kessler said the judge's timeframe is long enough that the players can finish the season and go to the playoffs if their teams make it that far.

Kevin and Pat Williams, who aren't related, are star defensive tackles for a Vikings team that is 8-5 and in first place in the NFC North. They play Sunday at Arizona.

"My attorney gave me a little bit of it, but I was focused on the game. I really wasn't focused on that," Smith said Thursday night after the Saints lost in overtime to Chicago, 27-24. "So I got to sit back either tonight or tomorrow and talk to him and see what happens." [Mark Godsey]

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