Toronto Argonauts’ running back Andrew Harris is the only Canadian to rush for more than 10,000 career yards but in the eyes of many CFL fans, the future Hall of Famer’s career will forever be defined by one positive test for performance-enhancing drugs.
Still basking in the glow of his fourth Grey Cup championship, Harris sat down with Bob Marjanovich during the latest episode of his Moj on Sports podcast. During the 40-minute career retrospective, Harris touched on his now-infamous 2019 suspension and expressed displeasure with how it was handled by the Canadian Football League Players Association.
“I guess the biggest thing is I know the truth and I know my truth,” Harris said. “One of the things that kind of always gets overlooked is — and which I wish the CFLPA kind of put out there a little more and shed a little more light on — was the fact that I had a urine and blood test 10 days before I had the positive test, which was just a urine test.”
“I mean, anyone who knows anything about taking drugs, having a small trace of something … if I was substantially doing something to try to cheat or performance enhancing, then that would be a lot more substantial in my blood system or in my urine sample. It just doesn’t make any sense as far as the PED angle.”
Harris was suspended two games in September of 2019 after testing positive for the banned substance Metandienone, an anabolic steroid. The running back claimed at the time that the positive test was the result of unknowingly taking a tainted supplement, though that was never proven.
The Winnipeg native used the suspension as motivation as he led his hometown Blue Bombers to their first Grey Cup title in 29 years that season, becoming the first Canadian player to take home both Most Valuable Canadian and Most Valuable Player in the big game. The Bombers and Harris repeated as champions in 2021, before he defeated his old team as a member of the Argonauts in Grey Cup 109 this season.
Soon-to-be 36 years old and openly contemplating retirement, Harris’ legacy remains controversial. While his statistical output ranks him among the greatest in league history, many purists have found the cheating allegations difficult to get past and have called into question his accomplishments.
“I flip on Twitter or there’s a CFL post on Instagram and all it is is people saying, ‘Oh, cheater, cheater, cheater.’ Or when I came back from my injury this year, ‘Oh, you’ve got to test him,'” Harris acknowledged.
“I literally got tested as soon as I got back, I got tested the week before Grey Cup. These things, they always keep happening and people can continue to say what they’re gonna say.”
While he once used the adversity as fuel, Harris has since come to terms with the experience. The black mark on his resume is not a welcome one but the criticism levelled at him by the media and other players taught him a great deal.
“It is unfortunate, I wish it never happened, but I can kind of appreciate that it did,” he said. “It was definitely a learning experience. I saw a lot of people’s true colours, which is very eye-opening. People that you were close to you or people that said they had your back or they were there, just throwing your name under the bus.”
That doesn’t mean he was fully satisfied with the way the situation was handled, however. Still confident in his own innocence, Harris simply wanted more to be done to expose the nuance of the situation and preserve his reputation.
“I know my truth. I know how hard I work to get to where I’m at,” he said. “I just wish that there was more knowledge, more light that was shed on to the actual situation and more support maybe from the PA just to reflect the situation.”