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Players tied to indicted doctor face tests

WASHINGTON (Sept. 30, 2005) -- Some of the NFL players linked to a South Carolina doctor indicted on federal charges for giving them steroids will be subject to as many as 24 random drug tests each year, The Washington Post reported.

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue told the paper that the league concluded an investigation into reports about prescriptions written by James M. Shortt, who was charged last week with 29 counts of distributing steroids and human growth hormones, as well as a conspiracy charge.

The players involved, most of them reportedly current or former members of the Carolina Panthers, will be subject to up to two dozen random steroids tests annually, the newspaper reported.

"Every player who was part of the investigation who's still in the league is being tested up to 24 times a year, which is the most important element of putting an end to this," Tagliabue told the newspaper. "That's why we have not had repeat offenders. That's as important or more important than the discipline. It's testing people up to 24 times a year on a random basis."

The Washington Post, citing an anonymous source, said the league's report indicated that less than 10 players during a four-year period used banned substances given to them by Shortt.

A CBS News report in March identified center Jeff Mitchell, tackle Todd Steussie and punter Todd Sauerbrun as having filled steroid prescriptions written by Shortt. Several other former Panthers were also named as Shortt's patients in subsequent media reports.

Of the players identified in the initial CBS report, only Mitchell, the Panthers' starting center, remains with the team. Steussie is with Tampa Bay and Sauerbrun was traded to Denver. None of the players linked to Shortt were suspended or fined.

Both Tagliabue and NFL Players Association head Gene Upshaw declined to identify the players who will be subjected to the frequent testing, but The Post, citing an NFL source, said only Mitchell, Steussie and Sauerbrun were affected.

"There's no fear that there's a wider problem," Upshaw told The Post. "The report has been completed. We will be, at some point, giving it to Congress. We're satisfied with the results of it."

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