According to head coach Pat Shurmur, Tate’s appeal of his four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy against performance enhancing substances will be heard Tuesday in New York City.
“He’s going to the City at some point tomorrow,” Shurmur said after Monday’s practice. “He may have to leave practice a little early, but it’s kind of an important thing he has to go do.”
Tate’s suspension was originally announced on July 27. His appeal will be heard by an independent arbitrator who has been agreed upon by both the NFL and NFL Players Association. The NFL has multiple independent arbitrators and assigns appeals at random. This is done to ensure neither the arbitrator, player, or league will know which arbitrator will be hearing a particular case to prevent any bias.
According to the rules of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and NFLPA, the arbitrator has three business days from the day the appeal is heard to make a decision.
Tate released a statement saying his failed test was the result of fertility drugs. He said he self-reported the violation to the Giants in April before any test was administered.
It is rare for PED suspensions to be overturned unless there is an error in collection of the sample or some other extenuating circumstances. It is also uncommon for PED suspensions to be reduced.
At the same time, four PED suspensions were overturned in 2014 after a previously banned amphetamine was allowed. Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Duane Brown had his 10-game 2016 suspension overturned when it was discovered he ate tainted meat while in Mexico.
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San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman won his 2012 appeal when he proved his sample was not properly collected. Former Giants running back Andre Brown received a four-game suspension in 2012 after he tested positive for Adderall. Although Brown failed to file the necessary paperwork in time, the suspension was overturned because he presented evidence that he was taking Adderall for a diagnosed case of ADHD throughout his NFL career.
Tate is not denying he took the drug but insists he didn’t realize it contained a banned substance. Former Indianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis was hit with a 2014 suspension under similar circumstances. The NFL did not flinch.
In a statement to the Indianapolis Star, the NFL said, “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.”
Tate will be eligible to play during the preseason. If the suspension is upheld, he will make his regular season debut on Oct. 6 (Week 5) against the Minnesota Vikings. He would lose about $1.22 million in salary and bonuses.