The Denver Broncos will soon have Wes Welker back on the sidelines after the NFL and NFL Players Association voted on a new, less stringent drug policy — but it could still be a while before Welker sees the field
Under the new plan, voted into place on Friday, Welker’s initial four-game suspension will be overturned.
Denver Broncos coach John Fox said the team is ready for Wes Welker to return as soon as he is officially cleared.
“They’ll work that out at which time if there’s any kind of decision we’ll accept Wes back whenever that is,” Fox said following Friday’s practice. “… We’ll see.”
Welker was initially suspended after testing positive for amphetamines. Though reports initially indicated that he had taken the party drug MDMA, later reports said the Welker actually took Adderrall.
Welker had fought the ban from the onset, saying it was the result of an improper NFL drug policy.
“I’m as shocked as everyone at todays news,” Welker said in an e-mail to The Denver Post. “I want to make one thing abundantly clear: I would NEVER knowingly take a substance to gain a competitive advantage in any way…. I have never been concerned with the leagues performance enhancing or drug abuse policies because under no scenario would they ever apply to me, but I now know, that (drug-policy procedures) are clearly flawed, and I will do everything in my power to ensure they are corrected, so other individuals and teams aren’t negatively affected so rashly like this.”
Under the new NFL drug policy, the positive test for amphetamines without a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) will now be evaluated under the Substances of Abuse Policy.
The NFLPA applauded the new policy, which puts the NFL more in line with other professional leagues in drug protocol.
“This is a historic moment for our players and our league,” NFLPA president Eric Winston said in a statement. “We have collectively bargained drug policies that will keep the game clean and safe, but also provide our players with an unprecedented level of fairness and transparency. Players should be proud of their union for standing up for what was best for the game.”
Just because Wes Welker may now be free to re-join the Denver Broncos does not mean he will be on the sidelines. Welker has been limited in practice after suffering a concussion on August 23, his third in a 10-month span. He has passed the important hurdle of being cleared to play be an independent physician, but his status remains uncertain.
[Image via KRUI]