My statement. pic.twitter.com/WzP7W4bclB
— Golden Tate (@ShowtimeTate) July 27, 2019
Tate has been suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violation of the NFL’s policy regarding performance enhancing substances. He said that he informed the league, the Giants coaching staff, and general manager Dave Gettleman in April about the drug after it was discovered one of the ingredients is on the banned substances list. This was, Tate alleges, was before any drug test took place.
Tate said he plans to appeal and is “confident in the facts and eagerly await my appeal to put this behind me”.
The NFL’s policy on performing enhancing substances was signed off by the NFL Players Association as part of the collective bargaining agreement. It says, in part, that “players are responsible for what is in their bodies and a positive test will not be excused because a player was unaware that he was taking a prohibited substance”.
The policy also states “a player cannot satisfy his burden of proof merely by denying that he intentionally used a prohibited substance: that he was given the substance by a player, doctor, or trainer, or that he took a mislabeled or contaminated product, and the player must provide objective evident in support of his denial”.
Tate’s appeal will be heard by commissioner Roger Goodell or someone designated by Goodell. The appeal would be scheduled to take place by telephone call on the first Tuesday following receipt of all necessary paperwork. A decision is required within three business days of the appeal being heard.
The policy states a player “must demonstrate that the challenged decision or ruling was clearly erroneous and in disregard to the principle rights of the player”.
The appeals process is meant to alleviate any false positives generated by mistake of the lab handling the sample.
The NFL wishes to avoid a situation like the one involving Major League Baseball slugger Ryan Braun. Braun was suspended for the final 65 games of the 2013 season as well as the postseason for violating MLB’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. Braun’s suspension was later overturned when it was discovered the test collection handling the sample did not follow protocol.
Unfortunately for Tate, there is precedent that his appeal will not be successful.
In 2014, former Indianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis received a four-game suspension and claimed it was for using the fertility drug Clomid. Clomid is on the banned substances list because it can be used as part of a steroid cycle to reduce or eliminate their side effects. It also helps the body restore its natural testosterone production. Mathis’ appeal was denied.
“We are disappointed in Roger’s decision,” then-NFLPA president Eric Winston said at the time. “Given the set of facts that Robert, medical experts and our union presented, upholding this suspension shows a lack of compassion and perspective.”
Both Mathis and Tate stated they took the drug without confirming whether or not it was on the banned substances list.
The NFL has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to performing enhancing substances. In its rebuttal to Mathis, the league stated “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”. In addition, the NFL doesn’t have a history of reducing these types of suspensions on appeal.