Army panel sides with JBLM doctor on drug test

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AP) — A panel of senior Army officers has recommended against additional punishment for a doctor jailed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on a drug charge based on results from a contaminated urine sample.

The News Tribune reports that the officers sided with Maj. Eric Smith last week. Smith faced a disciplinary discharge after a July 2011 drug test led to his conviction.

A punitive discharge could have hindered Smith’s ability to practice medicine as a civilian and denied him veteran’s medical benefits. The results from the Army administrative board will likely allow Smith to stay in uniform. He’ll reach the 20-year retirement mark this year.

However, the Army I Corps headquarters and Human Resources Command still could overrule the panel and discharge Smith.

The three-member panel found several reasons to discredit the drug test. It found that a hair test Smith took in August 2011 contradicted the urine sample results. A more recent test showed a substantial amount of someone else’s DNA in the urine sample.

Smith’s lawyer says there’s no question he was wrongly convicted and spent seven months in jail for something he didn’t do.

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