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Sources: Santonio Holmes facing four-game suspension

Late Friday afternoon brought good news for the Pittsburgh Steelers, with the report from ESPN that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger won’t be charged with sexual assault in Milledgeville, Georgia.

Now for the bad news.

Multiple sources have advised us that receiver Santonio Holmes is facing a four-game suspension under the league’s substance-abuse policy. It’s presently unknown whether Holmes tested positive for a prohibited substance or committed some other violation of the policy, such as missing a required test. It’s our current understanding that the internal NFL appeals process has not been finalized.

Under the substance-abuse policy, a four-game suspension comes after multiple violations. The fact that Holmes, the MVP of Super Bowl XLIII, is facing a four-game suspension means that Holmes previously has paid a fine in the amount of three seventeenths of his base salary (i.e., three game checks).

Though we’re not aware of the specific identity of the substance involved, Holmes has a history with marijuana. In 2008, he was cited for marijuana possession, prompting the Steelers to suspend him for one game with pay. Recently, he posted on Twitter a message indicating an intention to “wake n bake,” slang for smoking marijuana upon getting out of bed.

Holmes also has recently been accused of throwing a drink in the face of a woman at an Orlando nightclub. The alleged victim has both sued Holmes and pursued criminal liability, after indicating on the scene that she did not want to press charges. His lawyer has denied the accusations, recently claiming that a witness has signed a sworn statement taking responsibility for throwing the drink. The suspension Holmes faces arose independently of this alleged incident.