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HOUSTON - OCTOBER 04: Linebacker Brian Cushing #56 of the Houston Texans delivers a hard hit to tight-end Zach Miller #80 of the Oakland Raiders at Reliant Stadium on October 4, 2009 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
NFL star Brian Cushing plays defense, but he went on the offensive yesterday with a bizarre denial that he used performance enhancing drugs during his rookie season.
Cushing, the Houston Texans' linebacker and the league's defensive rookie of the year in 2009, said the test that showed he had hCG in his system left him fearing he could have terminal cancer. The drug is a hormone found mostly in women and is often used to mask steroids and raise testosterone levels. It's the same chemical that got baseball star Mannny Ramirez suspnded for 50 games last year.
Anyone expecting Cushing to show contrition after The Associated Press held a revote that allowed him to keep his trophy was disappointed. Instead of admitting he cheated, Cushing said he worried all season that subsequent tests could show elevated levels of the drug and claimed that doctors are looking into "why it would keep reoccurring." NBC Sports reported that despite Cushing's fears, he only tested positive once, back in September.
"The question of how it got into my body is still unclear," Cushing said at a press conference arranged by the team. "It's something I'm very personally concerned about, just the fact of how it's there and what's going to deter it from happening again. And that's something that we're going to have to medically investigate."
Cushing, who is suspended for the first four games of the season, claimed that he initially feared that he had a tumor after learning of the positive test in October, and that he spent the balance of the 2009 season worrying he might die.
"Personally, I know that I didn't ingest or inject anything, and the fact that my options were that I was either injecting or I had a tumor, as I was told by some sources, I played the whole season thinking I had tumors," Cushing said. "And then I'm playing the whole season thinking this could not only be my last season, but my last year."
Dr. Gary Wadler, chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency, told The Associated Press that cases of malignant testicular tumors producing hCG are "extremely rare."
"If he had a tumor that produced hCG, he wouldn't be playing football," Wadler told the AP. "He would be under treatment for a malignant tumor."