THE CFL is giving Billy Pavlopoulos a second lease on his football life.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers selected the former CIS punter/kicker in the seventh round, No. 54 overall, in the CFL draft Monday. The 6-3, 200-pound Pavlopoulos was eligible for selection despite being suspended for violating Canadian Interuniversity Sport's drug policy.
That's because Pavlopoulos's first positive drug offence came as an amateur while at the University of British Columbia. Had he committed the offence in another pro league, the CFL would've honoured the ban.
The CFL amended its policy following the 2006 season after Ricky Williams played for the Toronto Argonauts while under suspension by the NFL for violating its substance-abuse program.
"Collaboratively with the CIS, we structured our policy to make sense for both people coming into the league as well as those currently on (CFL) rosters," said Kevin McDonald, the CFL's vice-president of football operations.
Pavlopoulos made 13 of 19 field goals in 2011 and posted a 43-yard punting average -- second-best in the CIS. He also handled kickoffs, making him attractive to a CFL club because he can do all three jobs and save it a roster spot.
But Pavlopoulos tested positive Jan. 9, 2012 for stanozolol, a steroid, and received a two-year suspension. Pavlopoulos, 21, of Georgetown, Ont., didn't dispute the positive test but denied knowingly ingesting the steroid.
He said it was an unlisted ingredient in a supplement he had taken, an explanation the Bombers say they believe.
"It's a young man that maybe made a mistake, knowingly or unknowingly, and he said that's behind him and we believe him," Bombers GM Joe Mack said following the draft. "We had spoken to him before and afterwards, and he said it was in a supplement that he didn't realize was in it and he said he won't take any supplements anymore.
"Coach Dickenson (Bombers special-teams co-ordinator Craig Dickenson) believes he has a strong leg to be able to compete, so that's why we took him in the seventh round."
Stanozolol is the same steroid found in urine samples provided by Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson at the '88 Seoul Summer Games. As a result, Johnson was stripped of his 100-metre gold medal and world record.
Pavlopoulos will be allowed to play in the CFL this season if he cracks Winnipeg's roster. However, because of his positive test, he'd be deemed a first-time offender against the league's drug policy and have to undergo mandatory testing.
Under terms of the CFL policy, the league tests both urine and blood samples. Players are tested randomly, but those with previous violations in any league must undergo mandatory testing.
A second offence results in a three-game suspension and public disclosure, and a third brings an automatic one-year ban. Any CFL player testing positive for a fourth time faces a lifetime suspension.
Pavlopoulos took to social media to express his appreciation to the Bombers after being drafted.
"Feel extremely blessed with the opportunity given to me by (at)Wpg--BlueBombers thank you so much... Huge day for myself and my family!!" he said on his Twitter account.
-- The Canadian Press