The National Football League (NFL) suspended San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates four games for violating its performance-enhancing drug (PED) policy on July 2.
The NFL has suspended San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates for four games for violating its Policy and Program for performance-enhancing substances.
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According to NFL.com's Dan Hanzus, Gates will be forced to sit out the first four games of the 2015 NFL season. He will miss games against the Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns.
Gates is eligible to return on Oct. 5, several days before the Chargers take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hanzus stresses Gates can still take part in San Diego's offseason and preseason games and activities despite the suspension.
Hanzus obtained a statement from the Chargers expressing their disappointment in the turn of events:
"We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself.
"Antonio is a member of the Chargers' family and we will continue to support him 100 percent."
For his part, Gates issued a statement of his own saying he takes full responsibility for the suspension, per The San Diego Union-Tribune's Todd Adams:
"In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails. I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL.
"In an effort to recover from this past season, I used supplements and holistic medicines, and unfortunately, I have now learned that those substances always present a risk because they may contain banned substances even if the ingredient list doesn't reflect them.
"As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines.
"I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues.
"I take full responsibility for my actions. I'd like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my teammates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me."
Gates will not appeal his suspension. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter also reported on Thursday that Gates was tested weeks ago and was surprised when he got a positive result, per ESPN's Eric D. Williams.
His loss will be huge for the Chagers.
Gates led the team with 12 touchdowns during the 2014 NFL season. That number of touchdown receptions tied him with the New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski and former Denver Broncos player Julius Thomas for the most for a tight end in 2014, per Williams.
He also surpassed the 10,000-yard receiving mark in the Chargers' last game of 2014, per NFL.com. Hanzus foresees the Chargers counting on Ladarius Green to produce at tight end while Gates serves his suspension.
Gates wasn't the only one the NFL suspended on Thursday.
The league also issued suspensions on Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain, New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and Green Bay Packers defensive end Datone Jones for violating its substance abuse policy, per NFL.com.
Gates is entering the final year of his contract with San Diego which pays him $5.9 million for the 2015 NFL season. The ESPN update says he will forfeit roughly $350,000 in salary due to the four-game suspension.
For his part, Green is also in the final year of his deal with the Chargers. He will earn $660,000 in 2015, per Williams.
The 35-year-old Gates has caught for 10,014 yards and 99 touchdowns on 788 receptions in 179 career regular-season games for the San Diego Chargers, per ESPN stats.
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