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Ricky Williams leaves door open for return

Knight Ridder Newspapers

DAVIE, Fla. -- Former Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams has officially ended his NFL career but also made it easier to return to football by notifying the league of his intentions.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Monday that a representative for Williams sent a letter to the league late last week announcing his retirement. That was expected since Williams told Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt of his intentions July 23 and the team has moved on, but the administrative matter helps Williams if he decides to return to football after a year.

The retirement notice relieves Williams of his responsibilities under the league's substance abuse policy. Three previous positive tests for marijuana put Williams in Stage 3 of the program, and failing a drug test, missing a test or failing to follow his treatment plan would have resulted in a minimum one-year suspension from the league.

Now that he is retired, Williams won't be subject to discipline for failed or missed tests or failure to comply with his treatment plan. But Aiello said that if Williams returns within one calendar year from the date of the retirement letter, it would be considered a violation and result in the minimum one-year suspension.

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Williams reportedly failed a third drug test days before he told Wannstedt he was quitting. His attorney has said Williams' frustrations with the league's substance abuse program played a major role in his decision to retire at age 27.

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