MIAMI - Former NFL rushing champion Ricky Williams tested positive again for marijuana last month, which will delay his return to the league until at least September, a person familiar with the case said Friday.
Williams sought to end a one-year drug suspension last month when he asked to rejoin the Miami Dolphins. But following the positive drug test, clinicians in the NFL’s substance abuse program advised commissioner Roger Goodell to delay reinstatement, the person close to the case said.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of the testing program.
Williams, through his agent, Leigh Steinberg, issued a statement to The Associated Press on Friday night:
“Due to the recent reports about me failing a drug test, I feel it is appropriate for me to issue this statement. Last month, following a psychological evaluation requested by the NFL, we — the psychiatrist and I — came to the realization that there were a few things I needed to iron out about myself in order to make my return to the NFL as successful as possible.
“I am an honest, God-fearing man who is intensely dedicated to being the best person I can be on and off the football field. There is no need to smear my name or to defame my character for the sake of news. When the time is right, God willing, I will be back on the field scoring touchdowns for whatever team is fortunate enough to believe in me.”
The Dolphins and the NFL declined comment.
Williams, who turns 30 on May 21, has played only 12 games since 2003. Before his latest setback, new Miami coach Cam Cameron repeatedly declined to say whether he would welcome Williams back.
Williams’ latest positive test first was reported by ESPN.com.
The NFL suspended Williams in April 2006 after he violated the league’s drug policy for the fourth time. That failed test apparently involved a substance other than marijuana and may have been related to his interest in holistic medicine.
Williams’ previous positive drug tests were for marijuana, which he acknowledged using.
Last year Williams played in the Canadian Football League, then taught yoga in California. Steinberg recently quoted Williams as saying his interest in Eastern philosophy had overcome his desire for mind-altering substances.
“I appreciate all the support I have received from my fans,” Williams added in his statement, “and I assure all others that I am strong, clean, and happily preparing myself for a triumphant return to the NFL.”
Williams still owes the Dolphins $8.6 million for breaching his contract when he sat out the 2004 season, but they’ve given no signal they want him back.
General manager Randy Mueller traded Williams when both were with the New Orleans Saints in 2002. Two-year starter Ronnie Brown is expected to return as Miami’s starter at running back, and the team acquired running back Lorenzo Booker of Florida State in the third round of the draft last month.
St. Louis Rams coach Scott Linehan, the offensive coordinator for the Dolphins when Williams last played in 2005, recently said he would consider acquiring Williams as a backup.
Williams won the 1998 Heisman Trophy at Texas and the 2002 NFL rushing title with the Dolphins. Last season with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL, he rushed for 526 yards in 109 carries but missed two months with a broken arm.
PFT: Jets RB Mike Goodson was charged with five gun and drug counts Friday morning, after New Jersey State Police found the car he was riding in parked in the middle of Route 80 in Denville, N.J.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
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