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Report says Merriman will be suspended for steroids

October 23, 2006|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

San Diego's Shawne Merriman, among the NFL's most dominant defensive players, has been notified that he will be suspended for four games by the league for violating the steroids and related substances policy, ESPN reported Sunday.

Citing a source with "knowledge of Merriman's suspension," the network's Chris Mortensen reported that the Pro Bowl linebacker's positive test was "definitely for steroids ... not one of those supplement deals."

Merriman did not immediately return an e-mail Sunday night for comment on the story.

A team spokesman declined to comment on the report, saying the league would handle such requests in accordance with its collective bargaining agreement.

Last year's defensive rookie of the year and a leader of a Chargers unit ranked No. 1 heading into Sunday's games, Merriman, 22, is nicknamed "Lights Out" for the way he's knocked out several players over the course of his career. Many people see him as a budding Junior Seau.

If the Chargers were to lose him for four games, it could be a devastating blow to a 4-2 team with legitimate playoff aspirations. The team has already lost outside linebacker Shaun Phillips, the AFC's sacks leader, to a calf injury in Sunday's 30-27 defeat at Kansas City. He is expected to be out four to six weeks.

In 2005, Merriman was the 12th overall pick out of Maryland. Later in the first round, the Chargers selected Northwestern defensive end Luis Castillo, now a standout on their three-man front. Castillo tested positive for steroids in college and later admitted to using them because he was concerned his elbow injury wasn't healing quickly enough.

Castillo wound up writing a letter of apology to all 32 NFL teams, and promised to forfeit his signing bonus if he tested positive again.

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