Argos may drug test Williams

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:43 AM ET

The Toronto Argonauts are still in hot pursuit of suspended NFL running back Ricky Williams.

That made the hot-button issue of marijuana use front and centre yesterday when the Boatmen conducted their annual pre-season conference call with national media.

Argos president-CEO Keith Pelley said they have discussed drug testing Williams if he ends up signing with them, despite the fact the CFL does not have a substance abuse policy.

"It would be an area that we would at least discuss," said Pelley.

Several significant events still have to occur, however, before Williams is peeing in a cup in Hogtown.

PERMISSION

The Miami Dolphins have to give the Argos permission to sign Williams, he must promise to stay away from drugs and be willing to speak about their harmful effects, and then they have to agree on a salary.

That's a lot to do before training camp begins next weekend, but head coach Pinball Clemons would have no trouble welcoming the former Heisman Trophy winner to town.

"Ricky is a person. He is not a statistic," said Clemons. "This is a message that we are trying to give in the community.

"We're not going out in the community and telling young people that if you use marijuana, if you have any kind of criminal record, that you're useless."

One reporter asked why the Argos were taking such a hard stance on marijuana, considering Canada has practically decriminalized it.

"It matters because marijuana is still an illegal substance, so we take it very, very serious," said Pelley.

If Williams does sign in Toronto, it would make its running back situation even more muddy than it already is.

After former all-star John Avery got hurt against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last October, non-import Jeff Johnson took over and filled the spot admirably.

Clemons figures Avery needed two seasons to fully recover from his serious knee injury, so the coach figures he should be back in fine form in 2006. Clemons, however, isn't about to give up on Johnson.

"He's a guy who we really want to give an opportunity to earn that starting job," said Clemons.

Starting quarterback Damon Allen, who will turn 43 this season, is back for his 22nd campaign, as is his star-studded receiving corps. All the key defensive starters are back as well.

The backup quarterback battle will be interesting, with former Bomber Spergon Wynn, former Heisman winner Eric Crouch and 2005 third-stringer Charlie Peterson battling it out.


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