The league suspended Dent on Sept. 7 for 30 days when he refused to take a random drug test. Dent then challenged the suspension, saying that he had not been given notice of the test. As a result of the challenge, he was allowed to play Sunday against Indianapolis pending a league decision.
After a meeting Wednesday with commissioner Pete Rozelle, Dent agreed to abide by the terms of the league's drug-testing policy and the suspension was rescinded.
The NFL issued a statement saying that "commissioner Rozelle ruled that Richard Dent may remain on the Chicago Bears' active roster on condition that the player fully complies with the league's substance-abuse policy."
The league said Dent, who tested positive in a drug test August 1987, believed that he was not subject to the reasonable-cause provision, which mandates further testing, after one year had past.
"Dent's recent refusal to take the test was based on inaccuracies and misinformation. He now realizes and accepts that he is fully subject to the NFL policy, including the reasonable-cause testing provision," the NFL statement said.
"Richard's refusal to take that test was based on what he thought the law was," Dent's agent, Steve Zucker, said.
"It was a question of how far back the league could go with keeping someone on the reasonable-cause list.
"Richard thought the league could go back only one year, but now he fully understands they can go back for any period for veterans.
"But whether Richard will take another test or is on a list is a confidential situation. I'm not confirming or disconfirming if Richard is on a list."
All things considered, Dent said, "I still think the best has happened for me and I'm glad I did it."
A high-ranking NFL official has said that the league does not "have a handle" on how extensive drug use is in the NFL.
The Washington Post reported that Jan Van Duser, the NFL director of operations, said in a three-hour interview that several teams also "did not address their drug problems as well as they might have, either through putting football considerations first or just not knowing enough about the problem."
Before 1986, each team conducted its own drug-testing policy, and some teams did it well, Van Duser said. The NFL instituted its leaguewide drug policy that year. Since training camps opened in August of this season, 18 players have been suspended for substance abuse.
The Post also reported that Dr. Forrest Tennant, the NFL's drug adviser, testified before an arbitrator in 1986 that he had received reports that as many as 40 percent of the players on some NFL teams were using illegal drugs.
The agent for suspended Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Leonard Mitchell says there is "reasonable doubt" about the accuracy of the drug test that has sidelined the NFL player for 30 days.
The suspension was announced by the league Tuesday after Mitchell tested positive for the second time.
"There is room for reasonable doubt because the guy talked to me and said, 'I don't undersand this,' " agent Gil Thompson of Jackson, Miss., said.
Thompson said Mitchell had recently taken antibiotics, which could have resulted in the positive test result.
The New York Giants claimed linebacker Johnie Cooks, the second player chosen in the 1982 draft, on waivers from the Indianapolis Colts. Cooks, 6- feet-4 and 250 pounds, played at Mississippi State.