NFL Drug Raids Target Prescription Abuse

Team doctors were at the center of a surprising, forceful inquiry.

Federal agents conducted a handful of surprise raids on traveling NFL teams yesterday, searching for unmarked prescription drug bottles and violations of the Controlled Substances Act. DEA agents searched bags and questioned team doctors to ensure they hadn’t been prescribing drugs outside of the states where they are licensed to do so. Raids targeted the 49ers and Seahawks, who DEA agents met at their opponents’ stadiums, and the Buccaneers, who the DEA caught up with at Baltimore-Washington International airport.

The Washington Post says the investigation was spurred by a class-action lawsuit filed in May in which more than 1,300 former NFL players said team medical staffs treat drug laws more like drug suggestions. According to the suit, “The NFL has illegally and unethically substituted pain medications for proper health care to keep the NFL’s tsunami of dollars flowing.” 

The suit also accuses teams of handing out dangerous amounts of prescription drugs like its Halloween candy and of allowing trainers, who aren’t legally allowed to distribute drugs, to do just that. It isn’t known whether agents found anything in their raids yesterday, but if violations were found, fines will likely follow.

Photos by William Purnell / Icon Sportswire / Corbis