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Vikings rookie suspended for steroid use

August 19, 1997 GMT

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) _ Minnesota Vikings rookie linebacker Artie Ulmer was suspended by the NFL on Tuesday after he tested positive for steroids.

Ulmer failed the league’s random training camp drug testing, and he admitted that he used the substance shortly before camp began July 15. He will be eligible to return Sept. 22 after the first four regular-season games.

A seventh-round draft pick out of Division II Valdosta State, Ulmer will not appeal the decision.

``The reason Artie is not appealing it is because he admitted he took a weight-enhancing steroid before camp. Naively,″ said Phil Williams, Ulmer’s agent. ``He was told by someone _ no one with Minnesota, but someone who had been in the league in the past, _ that a lot of players do it. It helped you get through camp and that you wouldn’t get caught. He did it. He got caught. He would test clean now, because he hasn’t had it since before camp.″

The 6-foot-2, 239-pound Ulmer was placed on the reserve-suspended list and was one of three players taken off the regular roster Tuesday as the Vikings got down to 60 players.

The team also agreed to injury settlements with tight end David Frisch and safety Steven Hall. Frisch, the only Minnesota tight end with a touchdown catch last season, injured his ankle in the first exhibition game. Hall, who played with the Vikings and Colts as a rookie last season, also has been bothered by a bad ankle.

For Ulmer, the failed drug test continues what has been a bizarre career since leaving Effingham County High School in Rincon, Ga.

Although his college career spanned six seasons (1991-96), his only full season was last fall, when he earned All-Gulf South Conference recognition as a defensive tackle. The only other season he played at all was 1993, when he got into two games for Georgia Southern.

Ulmer signed with Georgia Southern out of high school. He was redshirted in 1991 and did not play for unspecified reasons in 1992. A shoulder injury limited him the following season, and he sat out 1994 so he would have two years of eligibility after transferring to Valdosta State. But he was ineligible for the 1995 season because of a problem transferring credits from Georgia Southern.

The Vikings like Ulmer’s size and speed, but coach Dennis Green refused to speculate on Ulmer’s future after the suspension. Green also wouldn’t say whether Ulmer would have made the team, but the best he probably could have hoped for was a place on the practice squad.

Ulmer had one tackle through the first three exhibition games. He missed last Saturday’s game at Cincinnati and hasn’t practiced since early last week, when the league notified him of the failed test.

``Artie is a good kid,″ Williams said. ``He’s a country boy who was told something. It’s his responsibility and his mistake, but he was told that a lot of people are doing it, you won’t get caught. He realizes now it was wrong and he regrets it. My feeling is it’s going to be totally put behind him and he’s going to be a player.″