Cornerback Richard Sherman has been informed that he won his appeal, contesting a positive test for a banned substance.
As a result, Seattle’s starting left cornerback is not expected to be suspended, and will be available for the regular-season finale and into the playoffs.
Sherman, a second-year cornerback, has intercepted seven passes this season, tied for second-most in the league.
Sherman and fellow starting cornerback Brandon Browner both tested positive for a banned substance, according to the league. Sherman appealed his result. He had a hearing last week, arguing that a second cup — with a broken seal — was used during Sherman’s urine test.
Browner will return from suspension for the playoffs, meaning Seattle will have both of its starting cornerbacks available when it begins the postseason.
Sherman used his Twitter account to indicate he won. In a subsequent text message, he responded to a question whether he would be suspended. “Not at all,” he wrote.
The NFL does not disclose results of a failed test until the suspension is imposed. As a result, the NFL has no statement currently on the case. But Albert Breer — who works for NFL.com — indicated that flaws in the testing procedure invalidated the result. Washington Post reporter Mark Maske spoke to someone familiar with the case, who called Sherman’s argument “a slam-dunk winner.”
Update, 11 a.m.: Here is a statement from Maurice Suh, who is a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, who represented Sherman: “We are very pleased that the hearing officer recognized that the egregious errors that occurred with Mr. Sherman’s collection required overturning the NFL’s discipline. Mr. Sherman provided honest testimony about a severely flawed process, and the hearing officer found him to be a credible man. We couldn’t be happier for Richard, and we were thrilled to help him and the union present a very strong case.”
Update, 1:52 p.m.: Bob Wallace, former NFL executive, was the hearing officer for Sherman’s appeal. His decision outlined the facts on the case. Sherman was tested on Monday, Sept. 17, the day after Seattle’s victory over Dallas. He was notified of his positive test result on Nov. 12, the day after Seattle’s victory over Minnesota. Both Sherman and the tester — identified in Wallace’s decision as Mark Cook — acknolwedged the cup initially used to hold Sherman’s urine sample leaked, and another cup was then used. That deviation from procedure was not acknowledged in Cook’s initial report of the collection process. That fact ultimately led Wallace to uphold the appeal: “I do not believe the burden has been met that the departures, especially in the actual collection of the sample, did not materially affect the validity of the positive test.”