Josh Gordon: Personal Insight Into Drug Testing Procedures


Most of the time here on DPD you can expect quality journalistic information based on reports, analysis and understanding. I hope you have found so during my short time here as the Editor. There are some situations though that you will get personal views or stories coming from my professional background. The quick and easy is that I am a professional counselor, licensed in the State of Ohio with extensive history working with the legal system, alcohol and drug clients, marriage, family, children & adolescents and more.

Today I take you behind the scenes of drug testing procedures as they have come to the forefront of the Josh Gordon suspension situation. I preformed urine analysis duties for a county Juvenile Court for a number of years early in my career. Not all procedures are the same but they all have similar features. I will give you details and, when appropriate, connect some of the dots of how we would of dealt with a situation like Gordon’s in the court system.

1) Urine is collected by an appropriate agent, in our case often a probation officer or officer of the court. The collector maintains visual contact to make sure the sample supplied is from the client (yes that means exactly what you think it means). The client would be required to supply a certain amount and put the lid on the cup himself. The cup was already labeled with the client’s identifying information. Once the lid was secured 2 pieces of adhesive were placed over the lid and connecting the cup. Both the collector and the client would initial those pieces of tape. The sample was then placed in the refrigerator or freezer (if testing for alcohol it must go in the freezer).

2) The tester, me in this case, would then go through the process to test the sample. The machine used was calibrated each time to make sure that the numbers were accurate. Much the way you calibrate a scale to make sure it reads zero before you get on it.

3) A small sample from each collected sample is then placed in very small containers, we always called them “shot glasses for mice.” Approximately 10 drops of urine are placed in each cup. The location of the cup, placed in a circular shaped holding device, was then noted on the client’s sheet as well as their original sample cup.

4) The machine is then turned on and runs through an extensive process of testing all of the samples put into it. Each sample can be tested for a variety of substances, depending on the supervising officers understanding of the client’s use history. The machine is calibrated at the levels set by the court. For marijuana the level was set to 50, where in the Gordon case the NFL’s level of 15.

5) Once the machine is done a print out comes out. The print out notifies of all positive tests, as well as the actual number the client tested for, in bold. All samples that came out negative are thrown away. Positive samples are then tested again. If a sample, like we are being told in the Gordon case, comes back negative the second time after a positive the first, we test it a third time. For us best 2 out of 3 won. We would also send all positive samples out for 3rd party verification, which we always got.

So given all that information, hope you enjoyed a backstage look at the process, I have some concerns about what we hear about Gordon’s process. The ‘A’ sample and ‘B’ sample should come from the same original sample cup should of been followed with a ‘C’ sample. The report I got from the machine told me the exact level the client tested for. Below 50, not positive.

The report also states that Gordon was tested a lot. Now a low number could indicate that it had been awhile since he smoked. The half life, time the substance stays in your system, is between 21 and 30 days. If he had smoked 3 weeks ago he could test at a low number. Yet if he had been tested as often as the report is saying he had, it would be tough for him to have used recently and tested so low.

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It is also important to understand where this report, information and leak is coming from: Gordon’s side. If Gordon’s appeal fails he is now a sympathetic figure based on these reports. These are reports that we don’t know are accurate at all but, because of the detail of information we have received, many assume they are. Gordon, once a pariah with Cleveland fans this off-season, is now mostly seen as the good guy against the Big Bad NFL. The same Big Bad NFL, and it’s commissioner Roger Goodell, only suspended Ray Rice for 2 games. Gordon’s camp, whether all of this is true or not, did a great job of setting up their client from a public relations stand point.

In the end I am cautiously optimistic. The key will be what the NFL’s policy and procedures says. Where we at the courts had the best 2 out of 3 rule, does the NFL have a different rule? While many see this report and believe he should get off the reality of the situation is that if he broke the rules and the NFL followed appropriate procedures Gordon will still face a lengthy suspension. The information from these reports makes it very interesting.

What do you think of the new reports?