Sports

TJ grad Pittman suspended four games by NFL

Houston Texans long snapper Bryan Pittman was one of six players suspended Tuesday by the National Football League for violating the league’s steroid policy.

The Thomas Jefferson High School graduate received a four-game suspension without pay. Pittman tested positive for Bumetanide, a diuretic which is sometimes used as a masking agent for steroids.

Pittman, the team’s long snapper since 2003, heard the news just before it was announced by the league around 4 p.m. Tuesday.

“Mostly, I’m frustrated that I’m being punished for something that was an innocent mistake,” Pittman told the Houston Chronicle. “I’m being punished for taking a performance decreaser if anything. And I’m frustrated with myself for even having to take a water pill to make my weight.”

Pittman said he has exhausted all of his options and will comply with the suspension and move forward. He can be reinstated with the team on Dec. 29, the day after the regular season ends.

Pittman said he is not worried about his reputation going forward.

“If I was guilty of using performance enhancing supplements or steroids, I’d be worried about it,” said Pittman. “But it was proven in my appeal that no steroids or anything illegal was detected in my specimen and it was also not diluted by the (diuretic).

“I’m just heartbroken it’s come down to this because of something as petty as a water pill.”

In the NFL’s announcement of the suspensions Tuesday, it was reiterated that the league’s policy states that the use of so-called “blocking” or “masking” agents, including diuretics and water pills, is prohibited. They also made it clear that a positive test would not be excused because it results from the use of a dietary supplement that unknowingly contained a banned substance.

A passage from the policy reads: “You and you alone are responsible for what goes into your body. Claiming that you used only legally available nutritional supplements will not help you in an appeal...Even if they are bought over-the-counter from a known establishment, there is currently no way to be sure that they contain the ingredients listed on the packaging or have not been tainted with prohibited substances...

“If you take these products, you do so AT YOUR OWN RISK! For your own health and success in the league, we strongly encourage you to avoid the use of supplements altogether, or at the very least to be extremely careful about what you choose to take.”

Pittman signed with Houston after playing semi-pro football with the Puget Sound Jets in the Northwest Football League for two seasons. He got a tryout with the Cleveland Browns in April of 2003, but was cut by the Browns before signing as a free agent with Houston.

Pittman walked on as a long snapper at the University of Washington and played only one season (1997-98) with the Huskies. He also spent two years at Walla Walla Community College, where he started at tight end. Houston opens the season Sept. 11 at Buffalo.

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