Updated May 12, 2010 @ 6:44 p.m. ET
Texans LB Brian Cushing was suspended by the league for testing positive for hCG, a fertility drug that is on the NFL's list of banned substances, a person familiar with the case told The Associated Press. ESPN had initially reported that hCG was the substance Cushing had taken.
HCG, which stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, is not a steroid but a naturally occurring hormone. Although its primary purpose is to aid a woman in becoming pregnant, it is also taken by steroid users to restart testosterone production, countering the effects of steroid use, and it reportedly can also mitigate the side effects from ending a cycle of drugs.
The source said Cushing had a low-level positive test for hCG in September and then had negative results in multiple tests thereafter. Cushing appealed the four-game suspension, but the league denied his appeal. It is unclear whether the appeals process caused the lengthy delay in the announcement of the suspension, which will take effect in Week One of the 2010 regular season.
Cushing could lose as much as $950,000 in bonus money, according to NFL.com, as a result of missing four games in the coming season and being prohibited from earning a Pro Bowl invitation at the end of the season.
The AP also conducted a revote of the awards he won at the end of the '09 season, Defensive Rookie of the Year and second-team All-Pro linebacker. In the results announced Wednesday, he retained the DROY award in a much closer vote but lost his spot on the All-Pro second team.
Rumors of steroid use surrounded Cushing when he entered the draft in 2009, but he repeatedly denied having used steroids.
Last year Major League Baseball suspended the Dodgers' Manny Ramirez for 50 games after he tested positive for hCG.
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