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Merriman drops appeal, starts suspension

SAN DIEGO (Oct. 31, 2006) -- Chargers star outside linebacker Shawne Merriman dropped his appeal and will begin serving a four-game suspension for testing positive for steroids this week.

Merriman, who's tied for the NFL lead with 8 1/2 sacks, will miss games at home against Cleveland, at Cincinnati, at Denver and against the Oakland Raiders.

The suspension won't officially begin until after Merriman addresses his teammates on Nov. 1. After that, he'll be barred from the team's headquarters until he's eligible to return on Nov. 27. The Chargers were off Oct. 31.

Had Merriman gone through with the appeal and lost, there was the chance that he'd miss both games against Denver, which is tied with the Chargers for the AFC West lead. The Chargers host the Broncos on Dec. 10.

Merriman, the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2005, said the positive drug test stemmed from a tainted supplement.

Word of Merriman's positive test leaked on Oct. 22. Merriman announced Oct. 24 he was appealing, and had three sacks in the team's 38-24 win over the St. Louis Rams.

Merriman's suspension is another blow to one of the NFL's toughest defenses.

Outside linebacker Shaun Phillips and end Igor Olshansky are doubtful for the Cleveland game. Outside linebacker Steve Foley was shot by an off-duty police officer on Sept. 3 and will miss the season.

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