St. Louis Rams linebacker David Vobora was awarded $5.4 million by a federal judge in his lawsuit against a supplement maker, his attorneys announced Monday.
Vobora sued Anti-Steroid Program, LLC, a Florida supplement maker also known as S.W.A.T.S, after he was suspended by the NFL for four games in 2009 for using a contaminated product made by the company. U.S. District Court Judge Rodney W. Sippel found that the company intentionally misrepresented the supplement in violation of Missouri law.
Attempts to reach the company for comment by The Associated Press on Monday were unsuccessful and no attorney of record could be located.
The $5.4 million judgment for Vobora, which was awarded Friday, includes money for lost NFL compensation and marketing opportunities plus $2 million for damage done to his reputation.
“This monumental judgment cleared my family’s name,” Vobora said in a statement. “We stuck together through threats, ridicule, and unfair stigma. Finally vindicated, I’m relieved that I can refocus on football and help the St. Louis Rams get back to the playoffs when the lockout ends. I’m grateful the Rams organization believed in my character through this trying process.”
Vobora was the last overall pick of the 2008 draft but became a starter in 2009. He played in 14 games last season and recorded 36 tackles and two sacks.
Vobora tested positive for methyltestosterone after using a spray made by the company. He studied the company’s website and even called an NFL hotline for players to ask about supplements before using the supplement.
Earlier this year, the NFL ordered new Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson to stop endorsing the company. The league in February also told some players they should not be associated with the company as it studied some of the products.
The NFL told ProFootballTalk.com on Monday that the verdict won’t change Vobora’s status as an offender of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
“We have not reviewed the decision but we support the player’s effort and hope that judgments like this will help to curb the activities of supplement manufacturers who would seek to mislead consumers,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the website. “But our policy is clear and places strict liability on the player. Players are responsible for what is in their bodies.”
Attorney R. Daniel Fleck said the judgment for Vobora is “believed to be the largest of its kind for any athlete who has been suspended from his or her sport because of a contaminated nutritional supplement.
“This case should be a warning to all supplement companies to improve their manufacturing processes and ensure their products are steroid-free,” he said in the statement.
Attorney Howard L. Jacobs said the supplement industry is “rife with problems.”
“Honest athletes like David Vobora pay a high price when supplement companies are not held accountable,” he said in the statement.