Bombers Harris taking steps to try to prove innocence after positive drug test
Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Andrew Harris has taken steps to prove he did not intentionally take performance-enhancing drugs.
The CFL’s rushing leader with 908 yards, and two-time defending rushing champion tested positive on July 12 for a steroid called methandienone and was suspended for two games.
He returned to the practice field Tuesday and steadfastly stuck to his story that his positive test of the result of him taking a tainted supplement.
“It’s been shipped away and I’m just waiting to hear back,” Harris said after practice at IG Field as the 9-3 Bombers returned from a bye week. “Again, it’s like a needle in a haystack, but I’m doing everything I can to get some answers.”
Harris sat out the Labour Day Classic against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina on Sept. 1 and the rematch between the two teams on Sept. 7 in Winnipeg.
The Bombers lost the first game 19-17 but rebounded to pound the Riders 35-10 a week later. Johnny Augustine filled in at running back and did very well.
Harris and the Bombers will face the 6-5 Montreal Alouettes on Saturday afternoon at Molson Stadium.
From his demeanour Tuesday, you might guess that Harris is going to be a man on a mission for the rest of the season.
“He’s pissed off,” Bombers coach Mike O’Shea said. “He’s not in any mood to chat and he’s not just gonna exchange pleasantries. He’s angry. I’m sure that will turn into something productive for him.”
When his suspension was announced, Harris said he took a supplement that stated it contained all-natural ingredients. He wouldn’t name the supplement but called it a “male energy supplement” that contained anti-oxidants, multi-vitamins and some natural testosterone enhancers.
On Tuesday, he was asked if he could give any further insight as to how the product may have become contaminated.
“Absolutely,” he said. “There’s tons of stories, there’s tons of articles, there’s tons of stories like this. It happens. It’s more common than I even thought. I’m not exactly sure, exactly what it is, but like I said I’m doing my best to get some answers. But for the most part, I’m just trying to get it behind me and move forward.”
Harris, who has been one of the league’s most productive players this season with 1,245 combined yards, will resume his pursuit of a third straight rushing title Saturday.
His return coincides with a heavy stretch of schedule for the Bombers. All their remaining games are against teams currently in the playoff picture.
After Montreal, they face 9-3 Hamilton, 8-4 Saskatchewan, Montreal again and play their last two games against 8-4 Calgary.
“Extremely fired up,” Harris said. “It’s been close to a month since I’ve played with live hits in a live game. Sitting and watching it has taught me a lot and I can’t want to get back out there.
“Today, running around, I felt extremely fresh. When you play a full season with all that wear and tear, it definitely can take a toll on you. It will be good to see how the first couple of hits feel but overall the fact of how fresh I am right now is going to be a benefit.”
Harris was around the Bombers for a couple weeks before the bye but did not practice. Tuesday was his first time as a full participant on the field since the Aug. 23 game in Edmonton.
He also deactivated his social media accounts and did his best to “kind of chill and get away from it.
“It’s almost impossible in this day and age not to see things or hear things, especially when everyone around you is on (social media) and reports back to you, so it was a good break for me,” Harris said.
“I was able to get my daughter acclimated into school and have her full-time so I was just focused on that through the bye week and the days off. It was just a good time to kind of relax and have some me time.”
Harris can only hope the positive drug test won’t taint his brilliant CFL career, during which he has gained more combined yards than any other Canadian player and has risen to 10th all-time in rushing yards.
But the fact is, there are many people who don’t believe his story and that bugs him.
“Yeah, of course it (does),” he said. “I feel like I have a lot of integrity and I’ve worked hard to be where I am right now.”
Harris hopes he’ll still earn votes for CFL awards despite positive drug test
As the CFL’s rushing leader — even after a three-week absence — Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Andrew Harris should be among those in the conversation for most outstanding player as the season winds down.
But a positive drug test for a steroid could ruin all that as voters across the country are likely to take it into consideration.
Harris, for one, hopes it doesn’t.
“I would hope not, but people are going to do what they’re going to do,” Harris said. “At the end of the day, I know the truth and people are going to say what they want to say or think what they want to think. But at the end of the day, I’m moving forward and my play will show who the real Andrew is and I’m just going forward that way.”
One thing that could help Harris is what he says is the truth.
“That it was a mistake,” he said. “It wasn’t something that was intentional.”