Bombers award winners feel Harris should be top Canadian despite positive drug test

WINNIPEG — Willie Jefferson and Mike Miller both put an asterisk beside one of their Winnipeg Blue Bombers awards on Wednesday.

The pair spoke out against voters for not selecting teammate Andrew Harris for any nominations that also go toward CFL awards.

The Winnipeg-born Harris leads the CFL in rushing with 1,380 yards, but was suspended by the league for two games this season for testing positive for a banned substance.

Jefferson was named the team’s most outstanding player and most outstanding defensive player, the latter in a unanimous vote for the defensive end.

Before a press conference, Jefferson tweeted that it was “crazy” Harris didn’t get the MOP nod.

“The reason why he didn’t get nominated was because of a circumstance …” Jefferson told reporters. “If I do win it, I’m most definitely going to share it with Andrew.”

When the Bombers announced the awards in the morning, the press release included comments from Miller, a fullback who got the nod for most outstanding Canadian and was a unanimous selection for most outstanding special-teams player.

“”It is my honour to be named the most outstanding special-teams player for the Bombers, but I feel I must speak out in support of Andrew Harris as our team’s most outstanding Canadian,” Miller said in a statement.

“Andrew is one of the true leaders on our team and one of the best players in the history of the Canadian Football League, and it is a shame he is not being recognized after such a sensational season. I will accept the Canadian nomination on Andrew’s behalf, but do so reluctantly and while completely disagreeing with his omission.”

Stanley Bryant was the unanimous choice as the Bombers’ top offensive lineman and receiver Kenny Lawler was Winnipeg’s top rookie.

Harris, 32, was suspended in late August for testing positive in July for an anabolic steroid called metandienone or methandienone, which is banned by the league and its players’ association.

Four members of the Winnipeg chapter of the Football Reporters of Canada (FRC) and Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea got votes, which aren’t made public.

However, FRC president Jeff Hamilton of the Winnipeg Free Press, second vice-president Darrin Bauming of TSN Radio in Winnipeg and Winnipeg Sun football reporter Ted Wyman all publicly revealed they didn’t vote for Harris because he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

O’Shea was unavailable as the team is on its bye week, but Bob Irving, the radio play-by-play voice of the Bombers on CJOB, tweeted his support for Harris.

“To set the record straight, SOME Winnipeg voters, not all, decided that Andrew Harris should be further punished for his positive drug test,” Irving wrote.

“I believe that a 2-game suspension, 2 missed game cheques and public embarrassment in July was punishment enough — I proudly voted for him.”

Hamilton, Bauming and Wyman all acknowledged Harris had a great season.

“I feel it sets a dangerous precedent if we choose to give recognition to a player’s accomplishments in a season they were banned from playing in two games or any amount of games because of a positive drug test,” Bauming said.

The trio noted the CFL doesn’t have a rule on whether failing the league’s drug policy makes a player ineligible for an award, which is the rule for some sports leagues such as the NFL.

Hamilton said the situation has created a need to have discussions about the topic.

“Nothing was done in-season, obviously, and it wasn’t the ideal time to do something to change a rule,” Hamilton said. “Those conversations will be had in the off-season with the FRC, CFL and CFL Players’ Association.”

Bryant and Jefferson were asked if the CFL needs such a policy. Both said it was up to the league and its players’ association to decide.

Harris has been the team’s best Canadian the past three seasons. He won the award for the West Division last year and in 2017, when he also claimed the honour as the league’s top Canadian.

After he was suspended, Harris spoke to reporters and said the source of “trace” amounts of the banned substance must have been from a contaminated over-the-counter men’s natural energy supplement he took.

When he returned from his suspension, he said he had sent leftovers of the supplement, which he didn’t name, away to be tested. It’s not known if those tests are completed.

Harris was asked at the time if he thought the suspension would affect voting for any awards.

“I would hope not, but people are going to do what they’re going to do,” Harris replied. “At the end of the day, I know the truth and people are going to say what they want to say or think what they want to think.”

The division award finalists will be announced Nov. 7. The CFL will honour its top performers Nov. 21 in Calgary.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A young new Canadian holds a flag as she takes part in a citizenship ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 17, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Open arms in an era of closed borders: pandemic-era immigration plan to be released

Backlogs are amassing that could take years to clear up

A sign at a Starbucks Coffee store in south Seattle is shown, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Starbucks saw faster-than-expected recovery in the U.S. and China in its fiscal fourth quarter, giving it confidence as it heads into the holiday season. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives to a press conference during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. More federal financial support is on its way to help Indigenous people and communities cope with the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Feds to unveil more pandemic support for Indigenous communities

Another $650 million to help Indigenous communities

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

Letter to the editor: Kenney should know what he’s taking from handicapped

Re: “Camp for developmentally disabled loses funding,” Oct. 29. Today is a… Continue reading

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

Workers at Olymel's Red Deer pork processing plant are among those eligible for a $2-an-hour bonus because of the pandemic.
Red Deer Advocate file photo
Two Olymel workers test positive for COVID-19 in Red Deer

Two workers at Olymel’s pork processing facility in Red Deer have tested… Continue reading

In this file photo, Nicholas Bennett was one of 13 swimmers set to compete for Canada at the Lima 2019 Parapan Am Games this summer. (Swimming Canada photo)
Swimming Canada urges pools to accommodate youth, says can be done safely

Participation of nine and 10-year-olds down 60 per cent

Team Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue poses with the Brier Tankard trophy after defeating Team Alberta in the Brier curling final in Kingston, Ont., on Sunday, March 8, 2020. Gushue experienced mixed emotions as he prepared to throw practice stones for the first time this season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Lesbian couple Yi Wang, right, and Yumi Meng pose during a military mass weddings ceremony in Taoyuan city, northern Taiwan, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Two lesbian couples tied the knot in a mass ceremony held by Taiwan’s military on Friday in a historic step for the island. Taiwan is the only place in Asia to have legalized gay marriage, passing legislation in this regard in May 2019.(AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
Two same-sex couples in military marry in first for Taiwan

Only place in Asia to have legalized same-sex marriage

Paris Jackson poses for a portrait in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Oct. 27, 2020, to promote her debut solo album “Wilted,” releasing on Nov. 13. Her new single “Let Down” drops Friday, Oct. 30. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Paris Jackson mines her heartache for solo debut album

11 songs on the concept album ‘Wilted’

Ryan, Falcons avenge earlier loss to Panthers, 25-17

Ryan, Falcons avenge earlier loss to Panthers, 25-17

Most Read