Originally created 07/13/97

King suspended for 6 Panthers games



CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Carolina Panthers defensive end Shawn King will be suspended for the team's first six games for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, the Charlotte Observer reported today.

Meanwhile, Panthers center Curtis Whitley won his appeal of a possible one-year suspension for allegedly violating the league's drug and alcohol policy, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources.

Both players are waiting to learn their status with the team, the newspaper said.

King is due to earn $375,000, counted toward the team's salary cap, and Whitley $850,000.

Coach Dom Capers, league officials and representatives for King and Whitley declined comment Friday.

When King and Whitley were absent for the start of minicamp June 2, Capers announced they were "subject to NFL action."

King's six-week suspension would begin at the start of the regular season. Missing the first six games without pay would cost the third-year player from Northeast Louisiana $140,625.

The NFL imposes a six-week suspension after a player tests positive for a second time.

King said in April he failed his first drug test last December by testing positive for marijuana shortly before the playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys. The Panthers suspended him from that game, citing violations in the team's attendance policy.

He subsequently was admitted into a rehabilitation clinic for treatment of alcohol abuse and depression.

A third positive test would result in a suspension, at least for a year.

Though Whitley won his appeal, he remains one positive test from a one-year suspension.

Whitley, a sixth-year pro taken from the San Diego Chargers during the 1995 expansion draft, said in June that he was being unfairly punished. He said he had not tested positive for an illegal substance but that he was involved in a "procedural dispute" connected to the drug and alcohol policy.

Whitley was suspended for four games last season following a positive test, which team officials said was alcohol-related.

Whitley started the first 24 games in franchise history, but hasn't played since his suspension last November. Frank Garcia was the first-team center at the end of last season and again during minicamp last month.