ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Rams linebacker David Vobora was
awarded $5.4 million in his lawsuit against a Florida supplements maker. More important, Vobora
said his reputation has been restored.
“Today is a celebration,” Vobora said Monday.
“Today, I’ve been proven innocent.”
U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel entered the order against
the Anti-Steroid Program LLC of Key Largo, Fla., on Friday. Attempts to reach
the company for comment Monday were unsuccessful and no attorney of record
could be located.
Attorneys for the 25-year-old Vobora said he used the
company’s “Ultimate Sports Spray” in June 2009 without knowing it
contained methyltestosterone, a banned substance that showed up in an NFL drug
test and led to his suspension.
His lawsuit accused the company of intentionally misleading
him and hurting his image in addition to lost income. The judge’s order
includes $2 million for damaging Vobora’s reputation and another $3 million in
lost “future income.”
Vobora also lost $90,588 in game checks, plus the court
ruled he lost $170,000 in performance bonuses and $100,000 in marketing
“The issue has always been clearing his name,”
said R. Dan Fleck of Jackson,
Wyo., one of Vobora’s attorneys.
“He didn’t cheat. He didn’t try to cheat.
Vobora said the Rams were very supportive, but that the
emotional toll elsewhere was heavy, “from extreme threats to fan mail
taking about hoping I never play another snap in the NFL. Hearing that I’m a
disgrace, having to deal with that daily.
“To really get the ship righted, that’s
Earlier this year, the NFL ordered new Oakland Raiders coach
Hue Jackson to stop endorsing the company, which does business as Sports With
Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS). The league in February also told some players
they should not be associated with the company as it studied some of the
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league supported
Vobora’s effort but added league policy places “strict liability” on
“Players are responsible for what is in their
bodies,” McCarthy said. “We caution players that supplements are not
regulated and what’s on the label may not be accurate.
“Players are accountable for any banned substances that
may have been taken by mistake.”
Vobora said he followed NFL guidelines on nutritional
supplements, calling a hotline set up for players and consulting experts. One
of Vobora’s attorneys, R. Dan Fleck of Jackson,
Wyo., said the spray was
recommended by one of Vobora’s teammates, linebacker Gary Stills.
Fleck said Stills had been a paid endorser for the
“I’ve taken a lot of pride into my hard work getting
everything that’s coming my way,” Vobora said. “To have it all
tarnished, it really flips your world upside down.”
After the positive drug test, Vobora promised to sue and the
spray was tested by an independent lab.
“The amount of steroid that was found in the bottle
matched what was found in David’s bloodstream,” Fleck said. He noted that
the company touted itself as anti-steroid, right down to its name, and that
“couldn’t be further from the truth.”
The attorney said the judgment is believed to be the largest
for any athlete who has been suspended because of a contaminated nutritional
Vobora, who played at Idaho
and was the 2008 draft’s so-called Mr. Irrelevant as the final pick, recovered
from the suspension to start 10 games in 2009 and made five starts last year
while playing all three linebacker spots.