NFL on Mathis: 'Player is responsible for what he puts in his body'

The NFL has responded to Robert Mathis. (USATSI)
The NFL has responded to Robert Mathis. (USATSI)

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After a drug suspension is announced by the NFL, the league is usually quiet about its decision. Players can make all sorts of claims about why they were caught with PEDs or other banned substances, but usually the league enforces the punishment and doesn't say much about it.

But when the NFL announced Friday that Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis had violated the PEDs policy, Mathis responded by saying he had been taking fertility medicine so his wife could get pregnant.

And the league now has pushed back on his statement.

"As Mr. Mathis' agent acknowledged, 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 NFL said in a statement, via the Indy Star. "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."

Oh, so that's something Mathis didn't tell us -- that he had withdrawn his initial appeal.

In his statement, Mathis said that he and his wife were having fertility problems and their doctor prescribed medicine for Mathis.

"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," Mathis said. "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."

The NFL responded by saying, "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."

And that appears to be that. 

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