Pro Bowl fullback Marcel Reece recently absorbed a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s PED policy. In a statement issued to PFT, Reece explains that the violation resulted from an internal chemical reaction that happened after he took a supplement that isn’t banned by the league.
The full text of Reece’s statement, written personally by the player and not by the NFL Players Association, appears below.
“During my eight-year career in the National Football League I have taken extreme pride in representing myself, my family, my team and our fan base to the highest of standards. I have never, nor would I ever, compromise my integrity as a man or player in the NFL — and I would never jeopardize my leadership in the game that I love so much.
“I have NEVER, and would NEVER, ingest any banned substance that would result in a failed drug test. What I did consume was a natural plant root extract by the name of ‘Umcka,’ which is a completely safe substance that is clearly legal by NFL policy, in terms of being acceptable to consume. What I didn’t know is that this plant root, once ingested in the human body, converts to the substance ‘metylhexanamine,’ which is a banned substance by NFL standards.
“Every single teammate, coach and friend of mine can tell you that I take extreme pride in taking care of my body, and I have worked incredibly hard every year maintain myself to performing at the highest level. I don’t believe in short-cuts; I have worked extremely hard my entire life and I would never consider any substance to gain a competitive advantage.
“As the NFL stated in their final judgment of our appeal: ‘The NFL does not contend that Mr. Reece intentionally violated the policy, and it is clear the Mr. Reece did not intend to do so. . . .’
“Let me be clear here — the Arbitrator, the NFL and I all agree, and have concluded, that I have never ingested ANY banned substance whatsoever, for any reason, especially not to enhance my performance. Unfortunately, due to the NFL’s strict liability policy and a completely flawed system there is nothing I can do to change this unfair outcome.
“I have fought this decision as hard and aggressively as the system allows to chemically prove how this happened, and to defend my innocence. I assure you all that this natural, chemical reaction was far beyond my knowledge prior to appeal research. To those who know and love me, thank you for your support. Thank you to all Raider fans, my fans, Oakland Raiders ownership and management, my coaches, my teammates, and my wife and family for their unflinching love and support.”
It’s a strong statement from Reece, much more comprehensive and detailed than the standard, boilerplate, “I took I supplement that I didn’t know had banned substances in it” explanation. And it comes at a time when the league’s PED policy permits the NFL to rebut the player, if incorrect information is being disseminated.
The broader message to all players, based on Reece’s experience, is to tread lightly with Umcka. If Reece’s explanation is accurate, no other player should be taking it, and the NFL and NFLPA should be working together to warn all players to avoid it.