4 NFL Players Suspend For Violating League’s Substance Abuse Policy


San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain, and Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson each received a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Gates’ suspension comes after he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The substance wasn’t listed but Gates released a statement saying he took a supplement that he didn’t realize was on the banned substance list.

“In an effort to recover from a long season and although I was unaware at the time, I regret to confirm that I tested positive for a substance that is currently on the NFL banned substance list.  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 have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues, and I take full responsibility for my actions.

Both McClain and Richardson tested positive for marijuana. The fact that they’re facing four-game suspensions means they were repeat offenders, already enrolled in the league’s substance abuse program.

The NFL and NFLPA recently made changes in the collective bargaining agreement that moved the threshold up for a positive test and reduced penalties attached for its use. That’s why last season Cleveland Browns’ Josh Gordon’s suspension was reduced.

In addition to those suspensions, Packers pass-rusher Datone Jones was suspended one game for either missing a mandated test or failing one.