FILE - This Jan. 2, 2014, file photo shows Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster (9) hitting Oklahoma running back Roy Finch (22), resulting in an incomplete pass during the first half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game in New Orleans. Vicious hitter who is probably too light to play middle linebacker in the NFL. Top-10 talent who might slip a bit because the value of linebackers who are not edge rushers is down in the NFL. He also was dismissed from NFL combine for argument with hospital worker. (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza, File)
Photo: Rusty Costanza
Photo: Rusty Costanza

Will diluted urine tests shake up NFL draft?

Peppers’ agents contend that he was heavily hydrating, drinking eight to 10 bottles of water a day, at the combine because he flew in from San Diego and had to work out with the linebackers and defensive backs. They noted that he never failed a drug test at Michigan.

Foster also forwarded a hydration defense.

NFL teams will have to make a decision soon. The NFL draft is set for Thursday through Sunday in Philadelphia.

Both claims may be medical plausible.

“There is no question in the field of doping control that one of the things that has be done when you give an urine sample as an athlete, the athletes are working hard and losing fluids,” said Dr. Bert Mandelbaum, an orthopedic surgeon and co-chair of medical affairs at Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles. “They are drinking a lot and rehydrating. Their urine gets very dilute. There is a limit below which the sample is not good and it’s not acceptable. So, the dilute urine thing can be a very circular discussion in general for all athletes at all times because of that.”

Foster contended that he was rehydrating after a case of food poisoning.

“It’s not common for athletes, especially when they are rehydrating to dilute their specific gravity,” Mandelbaum said. “That’s the metric that we use. When the specific gravity goes below a certain level, when it gets below that level, it’s a threshold below which the samples have to be re-tested. The problem that you get into is that each sample after that gets even more diluted. It’s almost impossible to concentrate your urine, once you’re that diluted.”

Pursuant to the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, a diluted urine sample is treated like a positive test.

“They could test them the next day,” Mandelbaum said. “Whoever is doing the testing can make that judgement when they should test them again.”

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.