INDIANAPOLIS - The NFL has suspended Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis for four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
The announcement was made just before 5 p.m. on Friday.
Mathis will miss the first four games of the season against Denver, Philadelphia, Jacksonville and Tennessee.
Though Mathis can participate in offseason workouts, training camp and preseason games, he will not return to the team until Sept. 29. Mathis will be back in uniform for the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Mathis said the suspension is a result of the fertility medication he was taking while he and his wife were trying to have a baby. Mathis released the following statement:
"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."
Mathis set a franchise record with 19 1/2 sacks last season, winning the league title in that category, and he is one of the most respected leaders on the team.
In a statement, the Colts said they wanted to reassure Mathis that he would remain an "honored and cherished" member of the team.