September 25, 2018

Winnipeg
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Record: 6–7–0

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Blue Bomber Report (6–7–0)

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Spooner back from suspension, could return to lineup

Offensive lineman Qadr Spooner has taken his lumps this season.

He’s spent time on Winnipeg’s six-game injured list and recently became eligible to play again after serving a two-game suspension for running afoul of the CFL’s drug policy.

Spooner said a positive drug test for the designer steroid methasterone, announced on Aug. 9, came as a shock.

He asserted his innocence, denying any interest in using steriods, but the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports, which operates the CFL’s drug-testing program, couldn’t specify the source of his positive test.

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MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Blue Bombers offensive linemen Sukh Chungh (left) and Matthias Goossen walk onto the field for Friday’s walk-through at Investors Group Field in preparation for the Banjo Bowl.</p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Blue Bombers offensive linemen Sukh Chungh (left) and Matthias Goossen walk onto the field for Friday’s walk-through at Investors Group Field in preparation for the Banjo Bowl.

Offensive lineman Qadr Spooner has taken his lumps this season.

He’s spent time on Winnipeg’s six-game injured list and recently became eligible to play again after serving a two-game suspension for running afoul of the CFL’s drug policy.

Spooner said a positive drug test for the designer steroid methasterone, announced on Aug. 9, came as a shock.

He asserted his innocence, denying any interest in using steriods, but the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports, which operates the CFL’s drug-testing program, couldn’t specify the source of his positive test.

The 6-4, 309-pounder from Brossard, Que., a second-round pick by the Blue Bombers in the 2017 draft, could have appealed the suspension but chose not to despite the fact he had existing medical exemptions for medications to treat asthma and ADHD.

Could those drugs or tainted dietary supplements have been the source of his positive test? Spooner doesn’t know.

"It comes down to just being mindful and being on top of everything you take," he said Friday following Winnipeg’s walk-through in preparation for today’s Banjo Bowl at Investors Group Field. "And if it means not taking things at all, it’s also another route you can take. I’m still heavily reliant on prescribed medications for the most part."

With a knee injury expected to keep American offensive tackle Jermarcus Hardrick out of the lineup another week, Spooner should make his 2018 debut against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

"I’ve moved past it for the most part," Spooner said. "I was injured during that time and I’m healthy now... Honestly, I just want be ready. We have most of our guys out there. The main goal is for me to be ready and be able to be able to step up to the plate if need be."

O-LINE SHUFFLE: the Blue Bombers had a unit consisting of Stanley Bryant, Michael Couture (taking Patrick Neufeld’s spot at left guard), Matthias Goossen, Sukh Chungh and Neufeld (shifting to Hardrick’s right tackle spot) manning the offensive line during Friday’s walk-through.

Hardrick is on the 46-man roster, but is likely to be one of two players dropped from the active roster prior to the Banjo Bowl.

"It’s still a game-time decision — staying positive," said Hardrick, who was injured during an Aug. 17 game against the Ottawa Redblacks. "Knee’s great. We have a great staff — (head athletic therapist) Al (Couture) and the athletic training staff took care of me."

The ripple effect on the roster also means the likely CFL debut of guard Cody Speller.

"This is No. 1," said a beaming Speller, an undrafted McMaster product who has toiled on the club’s practice roster until now. "We’ll see what happens, if they put me up. I was just told to be ready for the weekend."

Speller, who can play centre or guard, will have his girlfriend from Hamilton in the stands.

"It’s been good," Speller said. "I knew coming in it was a veteran group and I was going to spend the early part of the season helping out, learning. Whatever happens, happens."

SUPERSTITIOUS FEELING? Roughriders boss Chris Jones has eschewed his usual black shirt for a green one during his club’s three-game winning streak.

But he won’t admit to any superstitious attachment to the new duds.

"All we can do is what we do and show up and work," he said. "The kids have a good time with it and so that’s the main thing. We’ve got a really, really good locker room and just let them have fun with it."

Jones was asked if he made the switch at the request of his players.

"Oh yeah," Jones said. "If I showed up tomorrow without my green shirt on, they’d probably kill me."

A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT: the Blue Bombers prepared for the Labour Day Classic by piping in crowd noise during practice last week and the Roughriders have taken similar measures to get accustomed to the conditions they are likely to face from today’s sellout crowd at IGF.

"We’ve practised with the noise for the last couple of days," Jones said.

"We turned it up to I think 111 decibels yesterday, just to make sure. Do everything we can do to put them in the environment that will be necessary to perform tomorrow."

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Sports Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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