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NFL

Attorney: Disputed drug test led to Williams' retirement

By wire services
Published October 22, 2004

SANTA MONICA, Calif. - Ricky Williams abruptly retired from the Dolphins last summer because he disagreed with the NFL over a disputed drug test. Williams now wants to play again.

Attorney David Cornwell said Thursday the league "took a position regarding that test that we thought was inappropriate. "What we challenged was the testing and the specimen from last December's testing," Cornwell said after a 90-minute meeting with two NFL officials and a union representative aimed at resuming the star running back's career.

"It was important to have us all in the same room," Cornwell said. "In the course of the last 10 months, there have been various discussions between the parties. I'm going to make a formal proposal for Ricky to resume his career as soon as possible.

"My preference is that he was able to play last week."

Williams did not attend the meeting. Cornwell said his client is taking classes in northern California and refused to elaborate.

"He had a class today - I spoke to him right after the meeting," Cornwell said.

An arbitrator ruled last month that Williams, 27, must repay more than $8.6-million to the Dolphins for breaching his contract. Cornwell said as far as he's concerned, that has nothing to do with Williams' desire to return.

"My assessment is he wants to play football," Cornwell said.

The Miami Herald has quoted Williams as saying he has failed three drug tests - in May 2002, December and last spring.

A second positive test calls for a player to be fined his salary for four games and a third results in a four-game suspension without pay.

A first or second failed test is not made public.

At issue is whether Williams decided to retire as a result of learning he was facing a four-game suspension.

"I'm not going to go into the specifics of our rationale," Cornwell said. "Ricky made the decision to retire.

"Clearly, Ricky overreacted as things unfolded. But for that misunderstanding, he would not have retired. This was a human who had a particularly emotional reaction to a set of circumstances."

Meanwhile, Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga said he's surprised and disappointed the team is off to the worst start in its 39-year history, but he hasn't made any decision regarding the future of coach Dave Wannstedt or general manager Rick Spielman.

Huizenga said his staff is formulating a plan to improve the organization but didn't elaborate.

BEARS: Adewale Ogunleye says he has a small tear in the ligament of his right ankle and won't play Sunday against Tampa Bay. Ogunleye was not ruled out of the game, but was downgraded on the injury list from questionable to doubtful. Told that Ogunleye said he had a slight tear, coach Lovie Smith said his defensive end has been diagnosed with a strained muscle. "Dr. Adewale? Is he a doctor?" Smith asked.

BILLS: Travis Henry practiced for the second straight day and said he expects to be Buffalo's starting running back at Baltimore on Sunday after missing Sunday's game with a sprained left foot. ... Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray signed a contract extension. Terms were not immediately available, but Gray was entering the final year of his contract.

EAGLES: With Mark Simoneau sidelined by a foot injury, Jeremiah Trotter is getting ready for his first start at middle linebacker since returning to the Eagles.

PANTHERS: Linebacker Mark Fields is ready to play Sunday against San Diego after missing two games with a back injury.

RAIDERS: Defensive line coach Sam Clancy was taken from the practice facility on a stretcher and rushed to a hospital after complaining of chest pains and shortness of breath during practice.

HALL OF FAME: Quarterbacks Dan Marino and Steve Young and wide receiver Michael Irvin are among nine first-time nominees.

PRO BOWL: The game will remain in Hawaii through 2009 after the league and the state's tourism authority reached a new five-year agreement.

NFL EUROPE: The Scottish Claymores have folded due to falling attendance, leaving the league with one team outside of Germany.

[Last modified October 22, 2004, 01:09:27]


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