Miami Dolphins running back J.J. Johnson faces a suspension for the first four regular-season games for violating the NFL's steroid policy, unless the ruling is overturned on appeal, a football source familiar with the case said Monday.
A decision on the appeal by the commissioner's office is expected before the season begins Sept. 3, said the source, who did not want to be identified.
The league declined to comment.
The NFL has a no-tolerance policy regarding steroid use, which means Johnson would be suspended even for his first offense.
Johnson, 26, was expected to start the Dolphins' opener against Seattle. He started four games as a rookie last year and led the team with 558 yards rushing in 164 carries with four touchdowns.
The suspension doesn't include exhibition games, but Johnson wasn't expected to play Monday night when the Dolphins faced the Green Bay Packers.
©2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
© 2000 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.