From the NFL's leading receiver (in terms of yardage) to the NFL's sack leader: Indianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis was handed a four-game suspension for testing positive for Clomid, as Adam Schefter of ESPN tweeted Friday.
Schefter reminded us Clomid is a masking agent former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez was once was suspended for.
Mathis will miss the season opener at the Denver Broncos, Week 2 home against the Philadelphia Eagles, Week 3 at the Jacksonville Jaguars and Week 4 home against the Tennessee Titans.
If you're keeping score, those are two of the most dangerous offenses in football out of the gate, followed by two division games against two vastly improved teams—particularly offensively—this offseason.
Mathis responded to the suspension with this statement, via Schefter from his Facebook page:
It is difficult for me to address the circumstances surrounding this suspension because they involve very personal medical information, but it is very important to me that my fans, particularly young people, understand what did and did not occur.
Like many families, my wife and I faced fertility challenges, and I sought medical assistance. 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. 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. I am deeply saddened that this situation will prevent me from contributing to my team for four games, and I regret that I didn't cross check what my doctor told me before I took the medication.
I hope that my fans will understand the unique circumstances involved here and continue to know that I am a man of integrity who would never intentionally circumvent the performance enhancing substance policy agreed to by the NFL and my union. The incredible blessing of this very upsetting situation is that, after I took the medication very briefly at the end of last season, we learned that my wife is expecting a baby.
We are thrilled that we will be welcoming a new member in several months, but I apologize to my teammates, coaches and Colts fans that I will not be able to contribute to my team for the first four weeks of the 2014 season. I will work extremely hard during that time to stay in top football shape and will be prepared to contribute immediately upon my return.
The NFL responded to Mathis' statement with one of their own, as The Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder (subscription required) wrote:
As Mr. Mathis' agent acknowledged (Friday), his client failed to follow the protocols in the policy that the NFL and NFLPA agreed upon to address precisely these kinds of claims. 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. ...
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.
Regardless of whether you believe Mathis, you will not be seeing the NFL's reigning sack leader rushing the quarterback for the first four games of 2014. It's a significant loss for the Colts, who did not draft an edge-rusher until Ball State outside linebacker Jonathan Newsome in Round 5 (166th overall).