David NewtonESPN Staff WriterClose
- Covered Panthers, NFL for 11 years
- More than 25 years experience covering NFL, college football and NASCAR
- Joined ESPN in 2006
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A joint investigation by the NFL and NFL Players Association determined there was no evidence that Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid was targeted in the performance-enhancing drug testing program.
Reid said after a Dec. 17 loss to the New Orleans Saints that he had been selected for testing for the seventh time since signing with Carolina in late September. He implied that the tests were not random as stated in the collective bargaining agreement and that he was being targeted because of his collusion grievance against the NFL.
The NFL and NFLPA responded by asking John Lombardo, the administrator of the performance-enhancing drug testing program for 28 years, to look into the matter.
“There is no evidence of targeting or any other impropriety with respect to his selection for testing,” the two organizations said in a joint statement released Wednesday.
The joint investigation found that Reid’s claims about the number of times he had been tested since signing with the Panthers were not accurate, sources told ESPN.
Reid had told ESPN before the final game that the NFL and NFLPA came back with a different number of tests than what he deemed accurate.
The NFLPA filed the grievance against the league on Reid’s behalf in May. The grievance alleged team owners and the league, influenced by President Donald Trump, colluded to prevent Reid’s employment because of his protests against social injustice during the pregame national anthem.
After being signed, Reid began being selected for postgame testing at a rate that, according to Reid and Carolina coach Ron Rivera, raised suspicion.
“I guess there was something about some mathematician saying it’s highly improbable, but definitely possible,” Rivera said after Reid said he was tested a seventh time. “But I’ll say this: If my name came up that many times, I’d buy a lottery ticket.”
Reid, the first player to join former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the anthem, did not drop his grievance after signing with Carolina. He also continued to kneel during the anthem.
Reid’s grievance is scheduled to be heard after the season. Reid made it clear he and his representatives are “taking notes” about everything that has happened the past few months.
Reid also has suggested his four fines for hits during games and his ejection for his hit on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during a Thursday night game are other examples of the league’s efforts to target him because of the grievance.
The joint investigation only looked into Reid’s complaints about the drug testing program.
“We take any claim questioning the integrity of our collective bargained performance-enhancing drug policy seriously,” the joint statement said. “We will not breach any player’s confidentiality but can confirm that the report documents the dates he was randomly selected for testing and the actual dates of the drug tests.
“The report also demonstrates that Mr. Reid’s tests were randomly generated via computer algorithm and that his selection for testing was normal when compared with the number of tests players were randomly selected for throughout the league during the time that he was on the active roster.”
ESPN’s Dan Graziano contributed to this report.