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Cardinals' Garcia suspended: ephedra

Posted: Thursday August 07, 2003 9:27 AM
Updated: Thursday August 07, 2003 9:08 PM

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Frank Garcia blames an herbal allergy remedy for his testing positive for the banned substance ephedra.

The NFL has suspended Garcia without pay for four games for violating the league's banned substances rule.

"The way I look at is that I am an innocent victim of a well-intentioned policy," Garcia said late Wednesday night.

Garcia said he took the medication, which was used by his wife, after an allergy attack during a golf outing in April and was randomly tested the same day. His appeal of the suspension was denied Wednesday.

"The league is out to look out for the guys. But in my mind, I really don't feel like I've done anything to deserve a four-game suspension, Garcia said. "Unfortunately, they don't see it that way. It's zero tolerance and that's what we have to live with."

Garcia will miss Arizona's first four regular-season contests -- road games in Detroit and St. Louis and home games against Seattle and Green Bay.

He is eligible to return to the Cardinals' active roster Sept. 29.

Garcia can continue to practice with the team and play in its four preseason games. The Cardinals begin preseason play Saturday night at home against the Dallas Cowboys.

"I agree wholeheartedly with the spirit of the policy," Arizona head coach Dave McGinnis said. "But it's very unfortunate. In these cases, it's a zero-tolerance policy and that's what we'll abide by."

Garcia signed with Arizona as an unrestricted free agent after spending the last two years with the St. Louis Rams. The offensive line is considered a Cardinals' strength but lacks depth.

The team already had lost backup tackle Raleigh Roundtree, who underwent surgery to remove his spleen. Starting guard Leonard Davis broke his right hand in a fight during practice with defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch and has been practicing with a large cast.

To help ease the problem, the Cardinals signed offensive tackle Dralinn Burks to a free agent contract on Thursday. Burks, a cousin of Davis, was on the San Diego Chargers' roster this spring but was released before the start of training camp.

Congress is considering legislation that would ban ephedra, an herbal stimulant mostly used to lose weight and boost athletic performance. The NFL banned ephedra last year and began random offseason testing.

The substance has been linked to the deaths of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler this spring and Northwestern football player Rashidi Wheeler in 2001.

A bottle of Ripped Fuel, which contains ephedra, was found in the locker of Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Korey Stringer after he collapsed and died in extreme heat during practice on July 31, 2001. However, his remains were not tested for the substance during the investigation of his death.

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