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Report: Two star Vikings linemen could be suspended for steroid violation

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams could face four-game suspensions for violating the NFL's steroid policy, according to Fox Sports.

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams could face four-game suspensions for violating the NFL's steroid policy, according to Fox Sports.

Fox's Jay Glazer reported Sunday that the co-anchors of one of the NFL's best run defenses tested positive for a banned diuretic in water pills, and that while the appeal of their suspensions was supposed to be this past week, it has been pushed back. The Vikings did not play this past week, and players will return to Winter Park today after being off since Tuesday.

Pat Williams' agent, Angelo Wright, said in a text message that he needs to "investigate the allegations" before responding. It remains unclear when the Williamses' appeals would be heard or when their suspensions might be announced if those appeals are denied.

Kevin Williams' agent, Tom Condon, did not return a message left at his office or an e-mail seeking a comment Sunday.

Vikings spokesman Bob Hagan said Sunday the team does not comment on the league's substance abuse policies. Greg Aiello, the NFL's senior vice president of public relations, said the league also would have no comment. That is because the system is supposed to be confidential until the appeal process has played out and a suspension is announced.

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If the Vikings do lose the Williamses for four games, they will become the second and third starters from the team's defensive line to be suspended for violating the league's steroid policy in two years. End Ray Edwards sat out the final four games last season after having his appeal denied.

The Fox television affiliate in Denver was the first to break the story Friday that several NFL players had tested positive for taking water pills. Those pills can serve as a masking agent for steroids. The only two players named in the Denver report, which cited an unnamed league source, were with the New Orleans Saints: running back Deuce McAllister and defensive end Will Smith. But more details and names emerged over the weekend.

In addition to the two Saints and two Vikings players, Glazer also reported Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jackson tested positive. The New Orleans Times-Picayune added Saints defensive end Charles Grant to the list and ESPN confirmed Houston Texans long snapper Bryan Pittman tested positive for using a weight-loss supplement.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen said Saturday that according to NFL sources, the number of pending cases on the positive tests in violation of the steroids policy is eight, and that four have tested positive for the diuretic Bumetanide. The league puts it on players to know what is in the supplements they take. The NFL's policy on steroids calls for a four-game suspension for a first positive test.

It makes sense that offensive or defensive linemen -- especially ones with weight clauses in their contracts -- might have used a diuretic and not known it contained a banned substance.

The loss of the two Williamses would be a devastating blow to a defense that already is without middle linebacker E.J. Henderson, who underwent season-

ending surgery this month after dislocating two toes on his left foot. The Vikings host Houston on Sunday at the Metrodome and at 3-4 are one game behind NFC North-

leading Chicago and Green Bay.

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Both Williamses, who are not related, have played in the past two Pro Bowls. The Vikings led the NFL in run defense last season and are ranked No. 3 this season. The Vikings rank eighth in total defense in 2008.

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