by Aaron Wilson
May 17, 02014
The NFL broke from the usual norm of not commenting in detail about a suspension.
When Indianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis was suspended for four games for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy and his agent said that Mathis was taking a fertility drug to father a child and that it was unfair, the league made an exception. The drug Mathis took isn't on the approved list.
“As Mr. Mathis’s agent acknowledged today, his client failed to follow the protocols in the policy that the NFL and NFLPA agreed upon to address precisely these kinds of claims,” the statement said. “That policy also prescribes the disciplinary consequences of a positive test. The policy does not provide — nor should it provide — for the Commissioner to override the policy’s procedures and assess discipline on an after-the-fact, ad hoc basis. Here Mr. Mathis actually withdrew his appeal and accepted discipline at the union’s suggestion. His hearing took place only after the Players Association requested that the appeal be reinstated.
“The drug for which Mr. Mathis tested positive is not approved by the FDA for fertility in males and is a performance-enhancing drug that has been prohibited for years. Importantly, Mr. Mathis did not consult with the policy’s Independent Administrator, a physician jointly approved by the NFL and NFL Players Association. Nor did he consult with his team doctor, the team’s training staff, the NFLPA, the league office or the hotline established under the policy to give confidential information to players. Each of these sources would have warned against using this substance. A cornerstone of the program is that a player is responsible for what is in his body. Consistent application of the policy’s procedures is critical to the integrity of the program.”
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun