Little-known Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman R.J. Dill is making headlines in recent weeks, but not for making big plays. Dill was suspended for the first four games of the season after he tested positive for testosterone replacement treatments.
Dill claims he was prescribed testosterone for medical reasons, and that he only started using the hormone after he failed to make a roster last year and had assumed his career was over. But that doesn’t matter to the National Football League (NFL), whose strict performance-enhancing drug-testing policy bans use of the hormone except in extraordinary circumstances, such as a player whose body no longer produces testosterone due to loss of a testicle from cancer.
“I saw my doctor, and blood tests revealed that my testosterone levels were very low,” Dill told NBC Sports. “My doctor suggested that I undergo testosterone replacement therapy, and I accepted the recommended treatment.” Dill says he began testosterone replacement therapy in November 2014 and “almost immediately, I felt like my old self again.” At the time, he was not under contract with the NFL, nor was he actively pursuing a career in the league.
However, in January 2015, he was contacted by the Dallas Cowboys about signing him to a futures contract. He started training later in the year but received word in May that he had failed the drug test. “While my doctor had told me that the residual amounts of the testosterone would be out of my system about eight weeks after treatment, that was not accurate, and I failed a drug test a full six months after I had received the prescribed treatment,” Dill said.
The NFL has declined Dill’s therapeutic exemption and executed the suspension. Critics say it is unlikely Dill would ever make the roster and would likely get cut from the league soon anyway.
Testosterone treatment has been sought after by many men searching for the fountain of youth. Manufacturers of the hormone supplements have touted increased sex drive and physical performance to lure men into asking their doctors for the treatment. Testosterone therapy is intended for men who have a medical deficiency of testosterone, though studies on the skyrocketing number of prescriptions for testosterone have shown most men are never tested to see if they have low testosterone before being prescribed the treatment.
That concerns researchers, who have identified an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and death in men who took testosterone replacement treatments. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is actively working to identify how great the risk is, having recently ordered manufacturers to collect cardiovascular risk data on patients who use their treatments.
Source: NBC Sports