The story, which is still available via the Google cache, said that Raji, a former Boston College defensive tackle, "had a positive drug test" at the league's scouting combine in February. The information was attributed to unnamed "NFL team sources." Raji's agent disputed the report, and Sports Illustrated removed the story from its web site.
But SI didn't post a correction or retraction. On Friday I asked an SI spokesman for an explanation, and I got this statement:
"We have investigated the claims of Mr. Raji's agent and although we have several credible sources for the report we have decided to take it down while we continue reporting the story."That statement is puzzling because media outlets aren't in the habit of withdrawing stories that have "several credible sources." I have attempted to contact Tony Pauline, the writer whose byline appeared on the story, and have not been able to get in touch with him. I have also left a message with Raji's agent.
The bottom line, though, is that if Sports Illustrated were completely confident that its sources were credible, it wouldn't have taken the report off the site. Both Raji and SI's readers deserve a more thorough explanation.