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Thursday, July 29, 2004
Ricky Williams says he failed third drug test before quitting

Associated Press

MIAMI -- Retired Dolphins running back Ricky Williams said he failed a third drug test for marijuana use, which would cost him a four-game suspension if he decides to return to the NFL, The Miami Herald reported on its Web site Thursday.

Williams told the newspaper that marijuana played a larger role in his retirement than he indicated when he walked away after just five pro seasons. He said he learned of the failed test and possible suspension days before telling coach Dave Wannstedt last week that he was through playing.

Williams said, however, that there were "a hundred reasons" for his surprising decision to retire, and his desire to continue smoking marijuana was only one of them.

"I didn't quit football because I failed a drug test," he told the Herald. "I failed a drug test because I was ready to quit football."

Williams said he's not addicted to marijuana.

Coach Dave Wannstedt said the Dolphins have received no notification from the NFL regarding a third failed drug test, and Williams' latest revelation caught them by surprise.

"We knew nothing about it," Wannstedt said. "I'm totally surprised and shocked again."

Wannstedt said he's eager to move beyond the Williams situation and open training camp Saturday.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined comment when reached by The Associated Press.

In May, three South Florida newspapers quoted unidentified sources saying Williams tested positive for marijuana and faced a fine of at least $650,000 for violating the substance-abuse policy for the second time since joining the Dolphins in 2002.

He told the Herald for Thursday's story that he already decided to quit football before that second positive test. He appealed that fine, but received word last week that his appeal had been denied, the Herald reported.

While the appeal was pending, Williams said, he continued smoking marijuana during a trip to Europe and failed a third test upon his return.

He said he had been using a masking agent to cleanse his system while being randomly tested for two seasons but he didn't do that before the last test.

Williams first failed a drug test soon after arriving in Miami in 2002, the Herald reported. He spent much of his two seasons with the Dolphins in the league's drug program, seeing a therapist weekly and taking eight to 10 random urine tests a month, the story said.

Williams suffers from social-anxiety disorder and was a spokesman for the anti-depressant Paxil. He said marijuana helped him once he had to stop using Paxil because it didn't agree with his diet.

The former Heisman Trophy winner played three seasons for New Orleans and considered retirement while with the Saints, coach Jim Haslett said.

"In 2001, Ricky came in my office and told me he was going to retire and play baseball," Haslett said. "I don't know if we talked him out of it. We told him he wasn't a very good baseball player -- maybe that did it."

Williams didn't blossom until he was dealt to the Dolphins in 2002 for two first-round draft picks.

At times, Miami's biggest trade since 1970 looked like a steal. Williams led the NFL in 2002 with 1,853 yards rushing and broke nine team records. Last season he ran for 1,372 yards despite little offensive support.