David Vobora On NFL Drug Testing: “You’re guilty until proven innocent rather than innocent until proven guilty.”

June 23, 2011 – 5:30 am by Steven Cuce

St. Louis Rams linebacker David Vobora was recently awarded $5.4 million dollars in his lawsuit of suing a Florida supplements maker. As significant as the financial remuneration was, Vobora is equally relieved to finally have his and his family’s reputation restored.  Vobora allegedly used a Florida company’s “Ultimate Sports Spray,” in June of 2009 without knowing it contained methyltestosterone. Methyltestosterone is a banned substance that showed up in an NFL drug test. The Florida supplements maker gave him a contaminated supplement that led to his four-game suspension in 2009 for violating the NFL’s drug policy for a banned substance.

The unusual part of this unfortunate story is the fact that Vobora tells us in the following interview that he called the NFL hotline to make sure this substance was okay by league standards and he was assured there was nothing that could trigger a positive test. It was a risk Vobora wishes he never took, but at least he stuck through with his lawsuit and won the money back he rightfully deserved. Let’s give his agent, Marc Lillibridge, some credit as well for pushing as well as giving Vobora the confidence to go through the process every step of the way. He’ll never be able to get those four games back from the 2009 season, but for a player who’s original contract was a 3-year deal for $1.75 million the $5.4 million dollars in the lawsuit isn’t too shabby.

David Vobora joined ESPN 101 in St.Louis with Brian Stull and Howard Balzer to discuss his commitment with going through the court process and suing the Florida supplements maker to prove he was innocent regarding a drug suspension that cost him four regular season games, the importance of having the supplement he failed his drug test for still available in drug stores for his case, the long process of winning the drug suit of his 2009 suspension and the disreputable Florida supplements company that he bought supplements from that caused him to fail a drug test without even knowing it.

What was the key element that enabled you to have that commitment and resolve to go through with going through the courts to prove to the NFL you were innocent of your failed drug test?

“I didn’t do it [laughs] to simply put it. When you know you didn’t take anything to jeopardize what you worked so hard and so hard to get to. I think there is just a passion. Anyone that knows me and any of my teammates they can contest the fact that I definitely follow through with my word and I’ll put in the hard work and I stand by it and that’s my stance, so it’s similarly so. I definitely took a vow to see this through and my league did an awesome job as well as my agent helping me get to the point to where I had an opportunity to prove my innocence.”

How important was it to have the supplement still available so you could be tested for it? Some other guys want to get tested, but the fact is whatever they were taking they don’t have available any longer?

“Right that’s huge. That’s definitely the key factor. As soon as I got the letter saying I failed the test I couldn’t even pronounce what I failed for. My agent did a great job in saying ‘Hey lock everything in your locker. Bag it all up and we’re sending it to a credible lab that we can find here in the United States.’ We did that. It was a painstaking process to find out where did this come from? How did this happen? They actually proved hey it was in this supplement and there was enough of it left to show that it is exactly matched what was in my urinalysis. Therefore it was conclusive.”

Take us through that process for the folks who aren’t aware and my memory is a little fuzzy. When you got the letter that said you were suspended for for 4 games and when you came back I remember you taking us through the process. Share the whole experience before this whole thing went bad?

“Yeah I pride myself on being meticulous and if I’m going to do it I’m going to do it well. When I got the supplements and talked to some other guys who had taken it and picked their brains about it first and foremost and then went to the internet and did some research on different stuff that was in it called ‘deer antler velvet.’ What are the pros and cons of this? What is this cutting edge idea of why they are using it in products? I researched it on my own and to take it a step further, to take the correct steps, I made sure and called the NFL hotline, which the NFL provides us as sort of a way to quiz them on what exactly is on it and what products we are taking and what could possibly be in them? I had them check it out and they actually got back to me twice and talked about it and unfortunately even though they said there is nothing in here that would technically trigger a positive test, but you take it at your own risk and that’s the mask they have to hide behind. Therefore I wound up with the four game suspension and that was an extremely hard pill to swallow and going forward that helped keep me motivated to prove and really clear my name in this whole deal.”

There’s really not a whole lot that can be done when you have disreputable company?

“It’s a hairy…I would definitely call it a ‘grey area,’ in this whole deal. Supplements period. Maybe there is a smaller company that using a large company’s manufacturing plant and they leak it out for a month and some of those mixers are used on one product that may have banned substances on the terms of the NFL, but it may not be banned for selling at GNC. There’s some of that grey area. Again, the FDA regulations differ. We could go on about all this hearsay, but the truth of it is you’re guilty until proven innocent rather than innocent until proven guilty. It’s an unfortunate tale I had to live through and my family had to live through, but the important thing here is that it ultimately turned and was proven and righted.”

Listen to David Vobora on ESPN 101 in St.Louis here

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  1. 2 Responses to “David Vobora On NFL Drug Testing: “You’re guilty until proven innocent rather than innocent until proven guilty.””

  2. You are so lucky. A dear friend’s son in Portsmouth, Va. hasn’t been so lucky. He baby sat a friends 2 young children one night while his young daughter was with him. A few days later a detective came to the firestation where he worked and told him he was being investigated for molesting the little girl. He thought his firefighter friends were playing a prank on him, then the detective let him know he wasn’t joking. He took the detective to his house, gave him clothes, lines, dna, etc., doing everything in his power to cooperate. A couple of days later the Chief called him in the office and put him on Adm.Leave without pay, telling him if he was indicted, he was fired. Several months later he was indicted, and with 19yrs 9mo’s with the fire dept., he was terminated instead of being left on Adm.leave w/o pay until after his trial. He was found not guilty, and his record expunged, yet the city will not pay him his retirement, and has refused at two appeals to reinstate him. The city has kept the chief’s letter which stated lies, as did the City Manager’s termination letter, and other documents in his file, when the City Code requires documents to be removed in 2 yrs. Which should have been done when his record was expunged, but wasn’t. The city won’t respond to employers he’s applied for jobs with, therefore, he can’t get a job. His mother and father paid out large sums for an attorney to defend him in the criminal charge, they also paid large sums to an attorney to help him get his job back, and cannot afford to pay out more for attorneys. I’ve prepared an appeal and it’s been filed in court for a jury trial, since the first appeal, where the judge told him he would have a decision in 10 to 15 days, it took him 105 days to render his decision that it was out of his jurisdiction, when in fact Cir. Court was the only jurisdiction under the City Code. The City hired the son of a Cir. Court judge to represent them in the fight to keep him from getting his job back and the court case. To me this was a direct conflict of interest. If I had the money, I’d pay a lawyer, but I don’t have it, I live on SS, but am helping in everyway I can. EEOC has given him the Notice of Right to Sue in federal court, and we’re looking for an attorney to take the case, but he needs an attorney to represent him in the appeal in Circuit Court for the City’s 2nd denial. I’m thankful you were in a position to have an attorney represent you, and win your case. He feels just as you did, he had done nothing wrong, and is fighting with everything in him. His truck has been repo’s, his parents help him with his house payment, but without a job he has no money, and this has been going on for four (4) years. It’s almost destroyed them. His mom has cancer,and is on oxygen, and his father has major heart issues, I’m so afraid this will kill both of them if it isn’t over soon. I feel he has a very strong law suit, and hopefully it will be for millions of dollars and will make the City pay for what they’ve done to him. Then to cap it off, Child Protective Services put him on their Registry, when state law requires everything be stayed until after the criminal actions. They refused to remove him even after the Not Guilty verdict, and expungement, keeping him on their registry for 3 yrs. You would not believe the details of what he has been put through. He has a suit against the City, City Mgr. Ret. Fire Chief, Human Resources, Civil Service Commissioners, Child Protective Services, Soc. Services and the State of Virginia for what has happened to him. Say prayers that we can find an attorney that will take his case pro bono, and he can gain his life back, just as you did.

    By H. E. Davis on Jun 23, 2011

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  2. Dec 3, 2012: Sports Radio Interviews » Blog Archive » David Vobora’s Advice to Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman: “If You are in Fact Innocent, then Fight it; Fight it at All Costs”

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