Two Air Force football players facing steroid-related charges will be court-martialed, the military said yesterday. Junior running back Matthew Ward and junior linebacker Overton Spence are two of five cadets who have been investigated for steroid-related violations; four of those cadets currently face charges.

The two football players have been charged with the wrongful use, distribution and possession of a controlled substance.

Ward, who faces up to 10 years of confinement, will be court-martialed on Aug. 18. A court-martial date for Spence, who faces up to 25 years, has not yet been set. Ward and Spence could forfeit all pay and allowances and might be dismissed from the Air Force Academy.

Capt. Matthew Cassell, Spence's military lawyer, said they have not yet determined how Spence will plea, since the trial could be a month away.

Court-martialing in cases where cadets have been officially charged with offenses is common at Air Force, especially in cases that involve illegal drugs, said Meade Warthen, media relations director for public affairs at the Air Force Academy.

"This is a military justice proceeding and we'll deal with whatever the outcome is when it's complete," Air Force football coach Fisher DeBerry said in a statement.

Random drug tests at the Air Force Academy have started to include checks for steroids, a decision that was debated a year before the investigation began.

-- Amalie Benjamin