MIAMI -- The NFL suspended free agent Jason Ferguson, a veteran nose tackle most recently with the Dolphins, for the first eight games of next season for violating league policy on performance-enhancing substances.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed Sunday that the discipline was handed down late this week, but he couldn't offer further details. Ferguson also was suspended for violating NFL drug policy in 1999, sitting out four games after an anabolic steroid showed up during a urine test.
Ferguson's agent, Jimmy Sexton, didn't return a call Sunday seeking comment.
Ferguson, 35, was sidelined with a season-ending quadriceps injury in November and underwent surgery one month later. He had been in on 23 tackles in nine games for the Dolphins last season. Coach Tony Sparano called Ferguson a "heck of a player" at the time of his injury.
A Dolphins spokesman, Harvey Greene, said Ferguson remained a free agent and hadn't signed a new contract.
"We won't comment because he's not officially on our roster," Greene said. The team hasn't said whether or not it planned to re-sign Ferguson for next season.
Ferguson was drafted in 1997, playing eight seasons with the New York Jets and three with the Dallas Cowboys before joining the Dolphins in 2008. He has 325 career tackles.
Ferguson tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Scouting Combine in 1997. During his 1999 suspension, he passionately denied taking steroids, saying he used a dietary supplement, which he wouldn't identify, but that contained no banned substances.
"People are thinking I'm a drug addict or something like that, and that's ridiculous," Ferguson said at the time. "I read bottles and I know steroids. I didn't take no damn steroids."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press