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Athlete claims fertility treatments caused failed drug test

New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate is appealing a four-game suspension after the NFL ruled he violated the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Tate confirmed the suspension but said he plans to appeal the ruling.

The 10-year NFL veteran says the banned substance in question was a prescribed medication he was taking after he and his wife started seeing a fertility specialist in the off-season. Tate says he discovered the drug was on the league’s banned substance list just days after he began taking it.

Disclosing use of a banned substance does not always mean avoiding penalties

Tate says he immediately stopped taking the drug and informed the league. However, the NFL still imposed the four-game suspension, which could cost the wide receiver $1.75 million in income if his appeal fails.

The league bans dozens of substances under its Performance Enhancing Substance Policy, falling under three primary categories:

  • Anabolic agents: Also known as anabolic-androgenic steroids, which include natural substances like testosterone as well as synthetic drugs which have similar effects to testosterone. It also contains substances such as human growth hormones (HGH) which are released into the bloodstream and can affect a person’s metabolism, growth, stress and reproduction.
  • Masking agents: These are primarily used to hide or prevent detection of a banned substance or other illegal drugs.
  • Stimulants: This category covers many medications that increase activity in the central nervous system, usually to heighten a person’s activity, interest or enthusiasm, such as speed or Adderall.

Legal avenues are available for athletes accused of violating anti-doping policies

In some cases, professional athletes can get approval to take banned substances for a legitimate reason. However, they generally must work with the league and recognized doctors before taking the drug. Appeals made after the league assesses penalties are challenging to win, given the strict liability system and the fact that sanctions imposed by the NFL are fixed, regardless of whether the player’s use of a banned substance was intentional or inadvertent.

Athletes can receive help from an experienced attorney who understands how their careers and earnings can be affected if they are considering taking any medication, even if a doctor prescribes them for personal reasons.

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