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Tagliabue: Panthers unaware of steroid usage

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Aug. 25, 2005) -- Carolina Panthers officials didn't know some of their players visited a South Carolina doctor suspected of writing illegal steroids prescriptions, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said.

"I think one thing is clear already, based on what I have been presented with, that no one within the Panthers organization was in any way, shape or form involved with any of these players who were playing outside the lines," Tagliabue said, according to a statement released by the team.

The NFL began its investigation into allegations of steroid use after a CBS News report in March identified center Jeff Mitchell, tackle Todd Steussie and punter Todd Sauerbrun as having filled prescriptions written by Dr. James Shortt of West Columbia, S.C., for steroids. Several other former Panthers have also been named as Shortt's patients in subsequent media reports.

The league has nearly finished the investigation, Tagliabue said.

"Hopefully, I'll have the report by the beginning of the season, and then we can discuss it with the (NFL) Players Association to see whether there are changes that we can make that would perhaps increase the penalties for players who might engage with others in a course of conduct that was designed to circumvent the (drug-testing) program," Tagliabue said.

The players involved in the investigation probably won't be suspended, he said.

"Based on what I've heard to this point, it would be virtually impossible to have found that any player violated the program the way the program exists," Tagliabue said.

Of the players identified in the initial CBS report, only Mitchell, the Panthers' starting center, remains with the team. Steussie is with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Sauerbrun was traded to the Denver Broncos.

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