SAN DIEGO — Shawne Merriman's attorney said the San Diego Chargers outside linebacker failed a drug test because of a tainted supplement and will continue to play while appealing his four-game suspension.
David Cornwell said he believed Merriman tested positive for the steroid nandrolone, which is prohibited under the NFL's substance-abuse policy. Cornwell said the substance was in a supplement Merriman has been taking.
"He did not go into the back alley somewhere and put a needle in his butt for steroids," Cornwell said at a news conference Monday, about two hours after Merriman practiced with the Chargers, who had lost, 30-27, the day before at Kansas City.
Merriman said he spoke with teammates and coaches and "apologized to them for this being a distraction, especially the critical time we're going through as a team."
Added Merriman: "Hopefully, nobody makes any kind of judgment or anything that basically makes me guilty for anything, because nothing has been done wrong on my part. And I will try to get it straightened out as soon as possible. As of right now, I'm not missing any time."
The Chargers play host to St. Louis on Sunday.
Merriman, 22, was the 2005 NFL defensive rookie of the year and started in the Pro Bowl after leading the Chargers with 10 sacks. He has 5 1/2 sacks this season.
"I have no reason to do anything wrong, especially when I'm already in the spotlight and doing things and trying to present to people the right and wrong way to go about things," Merriman said.