Colts Nation is in a bit of shock today. Robert Mathis, the NFL’s career leader in strip sacks, and the Colts’ career leader in sacks, is indeed facing a four-game suspension for PED’s.
The league cannot go into further detail because of confidentiality rules, and the Colts have released a well-thought-out statement showing their support for Mathis while respecting his privacy. Meanwhile, Ian Rapoport reported that the drug was Clomid (which is banned in part because it has been used in the past as a masking agent for actual steroid use):
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 16, 2014
However, the most interesting and straightforward response to the situation comes from the only person who can give such a statement: Mathis himself, who tells us the situation is due to a mistake over fertility treatments.
ROBERT MATHIS STATEMENT: “It is difficult for me to address the circumstances surrounding this suspension because they involve very personal medical information, but it is very important to me that my fans, particularly young people, understand what did and did not occur. Like many families, my wife and I faced fertility challenges, and I sought medical assistance. I specifically asked the doctor if the medication he prescribed for me would present a problem for NFL drug testing, and unfortunately, he incorrectly told me that it would not. I made the mistake of not calling the NFL or NFLPA to double check before I took the medication at the end of last season. The union has worked very closely with me to present all of the facts and medical records for consideration of discipline that does not include a suspension because of the unique facts of my case, but the Commissioner refused the request. I am deeply saddened that this situation will prevent me from contributing to my team for four games, and I regret that I didn’t cross check what my doctor told me before I took the medication. I hope that my fans will understand the unique circumstances involved here and continue to know that I am a man of integrity who would never intentionally circumvent the performance enhancing substance policy agreed to by the NFL and my union. The incredible blessing of this very upsetting situation is that, after I took the medication very briefly at the end of last season, we learned that my wife is expecting a baby. We are thrilled that we will be welcoming a new member in several months, but I apologize to my teammates, coaches and Colts fans that I will not be able to contribute to my team for the first four weeks of the 2014 season. I will work extremely hard during that time to stay in top football shape and will be prepared to contribute immediately upon my return.”
Ten years ago (and even more recently), a player had no such platform to reach out efficiently directly to his fans and attempt to set the record straight about any matter. Thank you, Twitter.
There is a vast array of substances out there that can bring about a positive test for performance enhancing drugs. The wrong topical cream, pill, or strange energy drink might be fine for the lonely guy who lifts weights all day and glares at people in the gym, but in the hands of a professional, or even an amateur athlete, they can send a career into turmoil. So, while it may have been somewhat embarrassing, Mathis’s story sounds very plausible.
Lending even more validity to Mathis’s story is that his wife is now pregnant, and that Mathis only took the medication for 10 days:
Engelhard said that Mathis only took Clomid for 10 days, and stopped when his wife got pregnant. Said the NFL questioned his doc under oath.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 16, 2014
Nevertheless, he tested positive for a PED, and the league may not be willing or able to make an exception. If that proves to be the unfortunate case, Mathis will be able to play and practice, including preseason games, until the regular season, when he would be out until Indianapolis’s Week 5 home game versus the Baltimore Ravens.
For now, best of luck to Robert Mathis as he goes through any remaining appeal process (though it appears the NFLPA has already appealed).