You might recall that back in December, current Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison was one of several players named in an Al Jazeera documentary on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional football.
The documentary, which largely centered around former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, who was an active player at the time, featured a Texas-based pharmacist by the name of Charlie Sly, who dropped Harrison’s name as among the professional athletes that make up his clientele for under the table pharmaceuticals.
Though nothing meaningful has since surfaced as a result of that finding, either positively or negatively—Manning was considering suing the network but appears to have chosen not to; no discipline has come down upon those named—the story doesn’t seem to be over.
We do know, of course, thanks to social media, that Harrison has been the recipient of more than one random drug test during the course of this offseason, as he filmed one of the testing sessions, and then caused a bit of an uproar when he was told he was not allowed to film a second instance. He contacted the NFLPA, who issued a statement to the players that they are allowed to film under certain circumstances.
The latter occurred just a bit over a week ago. Yesterday, NFL spokeman Joe Lockhart spoke to USA Today, telling Christine Brennan that it is the league’s “expectation” that they “will interview the players involved [in the Al Jazeera documentary] over the course of the next month or so”, a list of players that includes Harrison, as well as Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and Mike Neal.
Of course, the fact that the league still intends to interview the players named in the PED report is not particularly surprising, nor should it necessarily be an indication of something meaningful being produced from said interviews, such as suspensions. I imagine the fact that five months have passed already is an indication that little should be suspected as a result of the pending interviews.
It is tempting, however, to wonder whether there is a correlation between the number of ‘random’ drug tests that Harrison has had to be subjected to thus far this offseason and the fact that he was named in the Al Jazeera report. I haven’t been able to find any reports of the other athletes mentioned being subjected to random drug tests—but they may not post such things on social media.
Harrison has long vociferously denied any allegations of using performance-enhancing drugs, and once even implied that he considered it a compliment that people look at his body and the work he has put into it and assume that he must have achieved those results with assistance.
But he also said after the Al Jazeera report that “it’s disappointing because now, all the work I’ve put in, you all are going to say, you know what, [maybe he uses]”. He went on, saying, “now I have to fight it because I look like I could be [doing it]”.