Giants receiver Golden Tate will miss the first four games of the 2019 season, unless his appeal of a failed PED test prevails. Tate has issued a statement explaining the situation.
“This past April, during the offseason, my wife and I decided to see a specialist for fertility planning,” Tate said. “I started the treatment prescribed to me and just days later I discovered it contained an ingredient that is on the league’s banned substance list. I immediately discontinued use, I reported the situation to the Independent Administrator of the NFL Policy on Performance-Enhancing Substances, and I spoke with my coaches and general manager. I did all of this well before a failed test was even confirmed.”
The timeline becomes important to fully understanding the situation. When did Tate start taking the substance? When was he tested? How long does the substance or its metabolites remain in the system?
Those are fair questions to ask, given that no players who fail PED tests ever say, “I tried to cheat, and I got caught.” Everyone (except Julian Edelman) has an excuse, and every excuse entails some version of the notion that the player didn’t intentionally take a banned substance.
Tate expressed “confiden[ce] in the facts,” but he didn’t explain the basis for his belief that an appeal will prevail. Given that the PED policy applies a standard of strict liability that makes players responsible for everything that is in their bodies, intent doesn’t matter.
“During the entirety of my 10 year career I have taken great pride in playing this game the right way, have been an ambassador for the NFL and have never had any issues with the league’s policy,” Tate said. “The treatment this past April had no effect on the upcoming season, and I did not, and could not have undergone this treatment in April for any competitive advantage.”
That’s fine as a matter of P.R., but it’s irrelevant to the question of whether Tate will prevail on appeal.
And the lesson for all other players is simple. Before undergoing any course of medical treatment, whether for fertility or anything else, make sure the substance being ingested contains no banned substances under the PED policy before ever taking it.