Second Air Force football player acquitted of steroid use

Friday, September 17th 2004, 8:29 pm
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) _ A second Air Force Academy football player was acquitted of drug charges Friday after testifying that he believed the steroids he had taken were legal.

A jury cleared Matthew Ward, a 21-year-old running back, after several hours of deliberation. He has said he inadvertently used illegal steroids, and denied taking them to make him faster and stronger for football.

``I do not need to cheat in football. I know my role,'' Ward said Thursday. ``I am small but I am very fast.''

He could have faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted of possession and use of an illegal steroid.

Earlier this month, linebacker Overton Spence, 20, was acquitted of similar charges. Both players said they had gotten the steroids from a teammate, who is no longer at the academy, and took them only to keep their weight up during academy survival training.

Coach Fisher DeBerry testified in support of both players, and Spence has already been allowed back on the team. DeBerry said Friday that Ward will be ``welcomed back to the football program pending administrative clearance by the academy.''

Three other cadets still face steroid charges.