DENVER (July 7, 2006) -- Broncos punter Todd Sauerbrun was suspended for the first month of the season after testing positive for the banned supplement ephedra, a person close to the player said Friday.
Sauerbrun will miss the first four regular-season games if his expected appeal is denied, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the NFL has not announced the suspension.
Sauerbrun was brought in from Carolina before last season and is attending Denver's three-day minicamp this week. He was not immediately available for comment.
The NFL banned ephedra, a dietary supplement, after the death of Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Korey Stringer during training camp in 2001. Players are tested and can be suspended after the first violation.
In South Carolina, Dr. James Shortt faces a July 17 sentencing in federal court after admitting he conspired to illegally prescribe steroids to NFL players. Federal prosecutors have not identified any of the eight players, but say they have audiotaped conversations between Shortt and Sauerbrun and other Panthers players.
Sauerbrun led the NFC in punting from 2001 to 2003, the only player since the NFL merger in 1970 to lead a conference in punting average for three consecutive seasons.
By the time reports linked him to Shortt, Carolina was looking to trade him after a series of on- and off-field distractions, including a drunken driving arrest and fines for being overweight.
Sauerbrun was a second-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears in 1995 and he showed up at training camp with the personalized license plate "HANGTIME." He was traded to Kansas City and then to Charlotte.
In Denver last season, he won a player of the week award and even forced a fumble with a tackle against New England.
In 2003, Broncos safety Lee Flowers was suspended for the first four games of the regular season after testing positive for ephedra, which speeds the heart rate and constricts blood vessels. He blamed it on a vitamin he took.