By Scott M. Johnson
If the Seattle Seahawks are going to make a run at the postseason, they will have to do it without their top cornerback.
The NFL announced Tuesday that cornerback Shawn Springs has been suspended for the next four games after violating the league’s policy on anabolic steroids and related substances.
“It’s unfortunate,” coach Mike Holmgren said in a prepared statement. “The league has very stringent rules about what kind of supplements or body enhancers you can use. When you choose to follow your own routine, as opposed to a team sanctioned or designed workout/rehab program, you run the risk of unintentionally violating the league’s policy. It hurts the team, it hurts Shawn and it’s a lesson to be learned.”
Springs, 26, has always been a weight room warrior who takes pride in his linebacker-like build, but he has never tested positive for steroid use in the past. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
It was unclear when Springs took his most recent test, but his suspension will begin this Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. He will also miss games against Denver, Dallas and the New York Giants.
The NFL recently amended its policy to include supplements containing ephedrine and other high-risk stimulants that the league believes could cause significant health issues. The league also prohibits products that mask steroid-type drugs in the system.
Springs was randomly tested for drug use, as is the policy of the league during the regular season. All players are subject to tests in the preseason.
Four games is the standard suspension for first-time violators, and Springs would be suspended for six games should he ever test positive again.
He cannot practice with the team, and will not be eligible to return to the team’s active roster until Christmas Eve, which is the day after a road game against the Giants. Springs will not be paid during the suspension, which will eventually cost him approximately $375,000, or nearly one-fourth of his $1.6 million salary this season.
Springs missed the first three games of this season due to a hamstring injury that also sidelined him for most of training camp. Rookie Ken Lucas filled Springs’ position early in the season, and is a logical candidate to start in his place Sunday against the Chargers. Second-year player Ike Charlton could also figure into the mix.