Boston tested positive for GHB
PINELLAS PARK – Buccaneers wide receiver David Boston was under the influence of GHB when found asleep behind the wheel of his SUV last month, police say.
Boston was arrested and charged with misdemeanor DUI on Aug. 23, pending the results of a urinalysis. The test results came back last week and Pinellas Park police said the DUI charge would stand. But police refused to disclose the substance that Boston was alleged to have taken, saying the case was still being investigated. Pinellas Park police on Monday released the results of those tests, confirmed by two separate labs, indicating that Boston had 870 micrograms per milliliter of GHB in his urine. Police spokesman Sandy Forseth said using two labs is department protocol.
"That's a lot of GHB," said Sarah Kerrigan. Kerrigan, a forensic toxicologist, is director of the forensic science program at Sam Houston State University in Huntsvile, Texas. Kerrigan has a PhD. in chemistry in the field of drugs of abuse testing. "That's consistent with someone who's taken the drug."
GHB occurs naturally in the body, she said, and defense lawyers tend to attribute positive test results to the body's normal chemistry. But, Boston's reading is "not natural," Kerrigan said.
Kerrigan cautioned against making conclusions about any impairment from the concentration of the drug. GHB takes eight to 10 hours to leave the system after it's ingested, which leaves a large window during which Boston might have taken the drug. And different concentrations could appear depending on the amount of fluid Boston excreted. A determination of impairment, she said, would have to come from other evidence, such as the results of field sobriety tests.
GHB, or gamma hydroxybutyrate, has been abused in the U.S. since about 1990 for its euphoric, sedative, and anabolic (body building) effects. It is a central nervous system depressant that was widely available over-the-counter in health food stores during the 1980s and until 1992. It was purchased largely by body builders to aid in fat reduction and muscle building. In lower doses, GHB causes drowsiness, dizziness, nausea and visual disturbances. Street names include "liquid ecstasy," "soap," "easy lay," "vita-G," and "Georgia home boy."
Boston has declared his innocence, saying in a statement last week, “I have done nothing wrong. I was not impaired.”
Boston's attorney, Ronald Hanes, could not be reached for comment.
NFL vice president of public relations, Greg Aiello, said, “The matter is under review. It falls under the substance abuse policy.”
According to the NFL’s policy for substance abuse for violations of law:
“A player will normally be subject to discipline up to and including suspension without pay for four regular and/or post-season games for a first violation of the law related to substances of abuse other than alcohol and for six regular and/or post-season games for a second violation of the law related to substances of abuse other than alcohol. A player’s treatment history may be considered by the Commissioner in determining the appropriate degree of discipline. The suspension period may be extended if medically necessary, and, if extended, may involve mandatory treatment if required by the Medical Director.”
Pinellas Park police officers were summoned Aug. 23 by a man who called 911 to report a red Range Rover being driven erratically. The 911 caller was behind the Range Rover going south on 49th Street N.
"He appears to be drunker than hell. He's all over the road," the man reported.
The two arrived at the Park Boulevard traffic light about 38 seconds into the 4-minute, 42-second 911 call.
"I think he's going to sit through this light," the caller said. "We've gone through a cycle and he just sat there....He's not moving. I'm just wondering if maybe there's something wrong with him because he's not moving at all....Maybe he wasn't drunk. Maybe there's something else going on....I think maybe something's happened because he doesn't appear to be moving at all."
When officers arrived, they found Boston slumped over the steering wheel. They roused him, got him out of the Range Rover. They suspected he might be under the influence of drugs or alcohol because his eyes were fluttering, consistent with a conditiion known as nystagmus.
The police had Boston perform field sobriety tests. Then he was taken into custody and given a Breathalyzer test, which came back negative. An officer known as a drug recognition expert tried to test Boston. He said he was innocent and refused the tests, which was his right. Officers then took a urine sample.
Boston pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors in 2002 after he tested positive for cocaine and marijuana found during a traffic stop.
While with the Dolphins, he was suspended for four games in 2004 for violating the league's steroid policy. Boston, who had a season-ending knee injury at the time, denied taking an anabolic steroid but his appeal was denied. He was charged with simple assault in Burlington, Vt., later that month, and eventually pleaded no contest to striking a ticket agent at the airport.
This is Boston's second stint with the Bucs. He was cut before the start of last season.
Boston isn't the only Buc player whose actions are being scrutinized by the league. Tight end Jerramy Stevenswas found guility of DWI last week by an Arizona jury. Where does the matter stand with the NFL? "It's under review," said Aiello. According to the league's policy on alcohol-related offenses, "The Commissioner will review and may impose a fine, suspension, or other appropriate discipline if a player is convicted of or admits to a violation of the law... relating to the use of alcohol."
-- ANNE LINDBERG, Times Staff Writer