Will An Asthma Medication Keep Hollis Thomas Off The Field?

By Gregory Moore
Updated: December 6, 2006

SAN ANTONIO — Is Hollis Thomas’ asthma medication now causing him to lose money in his profession? If that medication is one of the banned substances listed in a June 2006 document that both the NFLPA and the NFL agreed to, then Thomas will be suspended for four games and the team, the union representatives and even pleas will not do them any good.

It’s the one part of the collective bargaining agreement that is so tenuous and so strict that it is also very inhuman and vague when it comes to what is allowed and what isn’t on the playing field.

I wanted to examine just what kind of impact this document had on a player like Thomas. So thanks to modern day technology, I pulled up the banned substance policy that the league has. A quick background on asthma and the medications first.

According to information found on the WebMD website, asthma is a chronic (lifelong) disease that involves inflammation of the airways superimposed with recurrent episodes of limited airflow, mucus production, and cough. Treatment focuses on: * Taking medications that control inflammation and prevent chronic symptoms such as coughing or breathlessness at night, in the early morning, or after exertion (long-term control medications)

* Providing medications to treat asthma attacks when they occur (quick-relief medications)

* Avoiding asthma triggers

* Monitoring daily asthma symptoms in an asthma diary There are products out there that patients use to combat the triggers of their asthma. In continuing with the Web MD information, the website says that there are two general types of asthma medications which can give you long-term control or quick relief of symptoms: * Anti-inflammatory drugs. This is the most important type of therapy for most people with asthma because these drugs prevent asthma attacks on an ongoing basis. Steroids, also called “corticosteroids,” are an important type of anti-inflammatory medication for people suffering from asthma. These drugs reduce swelling and mucus production in the airways. As a result, airways are less sensitive and less likely to react to triggers.

* Bronchodilators. These medications relieve the symptoms of asthma by relaxing the muscle bands that tighten around the airways. This action rapidly opens the airways, letting more air come in and out of the lungs. As a result, breathing improves. Bronchodilators also help clear mucus from the lungs. As the airways open, the mucus moves more freely and can be coughed out more easily.

What many of these products may contain are steroids or some form of steroids to help patients with asthma and that is where we pick up the story of Hollis and his suspension. The NFL is banning Thomas because one of his urine samples came back positive with the banned steroid clenbuterol.

Okay, this is going to get tricky but we’ll let technology guide us once again. Under the new policy, here is what the league and the union has agreed upon as far as banned substances: * Anabolic Steroids * Peptide Hormones (hGH, hCG, etc.) * Beta-2 Agonists (Clenbuterol, etc.) * Diuretics and Other Masking Agents * Ephedrine, Amphetamines and Certain Other Stimulants * Dietary “Supplements” Containing Prohibited Substances * Other Substances Related to the Above Now note something of the banned substances. One of the products listed is Beta-2 agonists and clenbuterol just happens to be one of the banned products on the list. So how can the union and team believe the league is wrong on something that was put in black and white and agreed upon?

Because the two sides believe that if Thomas were banned for using his medication, then every player who has a similar situation would also be in the same predicament and thusly lose out on making a living.

Ordinarily I am a stickler to the rules and policies and normally I would be hammering that Thomas needs to take his suspension like a man. If this were any other case of maybe abuse or trying to get an edge on the competition, I would not be on his side.

Yet this one of the rare occasions where I think that cooler heads need to prevail in this instance and that the league may want to revisit the use of Beta-2 agonists. What Thomas is doing is using the drug so that he can breathe easier and thus function at a high level and live a ‘normal’ life.

He’s using an inhaler just like other asthma patients and if it had never been a problem of the past, why is it a problem now? I wanted some answers so I again went back to the Web MD site to find out what other inhalers may be out there for Thomas to use. As I surfed and researched the site, what I quickly found out that if you are an asthmatic, just about every product out there has some type of steroid agent in it.

Thomas and others in the NFL who suffer the same type of medical condition are truly in a position of a no-win quandary. Where there should be relief for them, there is none. As I went through the NFL document, I quickly found that this document is basically set up for the guilty to prove their innocence in policy violation.

Again, as I stated above, in any normal case I would think that would be just fine because cheaters should not be given the same privilege as someone who honestly made a mistake. Thomas is basically an innocent player who must now try to prove to the league that his inhaler and its medication does not give him an unfair advantage on the field; something that the league’s doctors already know.

Hollis Thomas is caught between a rock and a hard spot on this one. From this vantage point it would be wise for the league to remove the suspension from his record or at least compensate him three games for an oversight that is actually on the league and the player’s union. This is one time where the punishment does not fit the crime in question.

JACKSON GOING TO COURT OVER STUPIDITY Whether you believe Stephen Jackson needed to be packing or not, he deserves to go to court over an October 6th situation in which he was at a club in the wee Saturday morning hours.

Ah, the actions of bring a grown ass man, don’t you just love them? Ever wonder why your father kept saying nothing good happens after 11 p.m.? Well I’m sure Jackson is now wondering whether he should have even been at a strip club during training camp.

The mere fact that Jackson is once again in front of a court judge doesn’t really surprise me. After all if he was truly a rehabilitated man after his fist flying contributions to the brawl that took place in Detroit is definitely classic behavior of one who thinks street justice is the only justice there is.

And now we have him facing a case that could put him in jail for four years. Should I have sympathy for him? Not this time. He got his mulligan in Detroit and now it’s time for him to play this one through.

When it all boils down, Jackson is back in court over something stupid. It was stupid for him to have a gun in the car. It was stupid for him to get into an argument at 3 a.m. and it was definitely stupid for him to be at a strip club during training camp. What was he looking for, the $2.99 luncheon special?

Jackson should be hoping that this incident doesn’t cost him in the wallet any more than it already does. More importantly though it is time for this Beaumont, Texas native to grow the [bleep] up and quit trying to be some hard ass with a street cred identity issue.

Either become a professional basketball player or a street thug. That’s the decision and I’m quite sure that Jackson would like to be a rich basketball player rather than someone out on the streets hustling for his very existence.

C’mon S-Jax be a little smarter with your friends and teammates will ya?