Robert Mathis suspended, player cites fertility drugs

Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis (98) watches action against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis (98) watches action against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The NFL has suspended Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis for using performance enhancing substances, the league announced Friday.

Mathis will be suspended for the first four regular season games, meaning the first game he’ll play is Oct. 5 against the Baltimore Ravens. He can still play in the four preseason games and participate in practice.

The NFL did not say what substance Mathis may have been using, but Mathis released the following statement on Twitter. It appears in its entirely below:

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 Colts released a statement as well, calling Mathis an “honored and cherished” player and showing the organization’s support for him. The NFL Players Association also expressed support for Mathis, saying NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to suspend Mathis “shows a lack of compassion and perspective.”

Infertility experts say testosterone-raising drugs help millions of men have children, but they also say those drugs would increase an athlete’s performance on the gridiron, and that’s why most are on the list of banned substances for the NFL.

According to a report by ESPN, Mathis was taking Clomid, a generic term for Clomiphene.

“Or what we commonly refer to as an estrogen-blocker and it gets a man to make more of his own testosterone,” said Dr. Samual Thompson.

Dr. Thompson, of Urology of Indiana, is a male infertility expert. He says Clomid was originally made for women fighting infertility.

“It’s an off-label use of the drug that we have been using for decades to treat men with low testosterone that want to have children,” said Dr. Thompson.

While Mathis says he was taking fertility drugs with hopes of adding to his family with his wife, who is now pregnant, Dr. Thompson says the top three prescribed drugs all have other effects .

“They have more energy, they are able to add more muscle mass, they have more labido, they have improvement in well-being,” said Dr. Thompson.

Those could help an athlete’s performance. Which is why the NFL prohibits the pills and other hopeful-parent prescriptions for the players.

“It’s a valuable drug when used appropriately, but like any medicine it can be abused or used inappropriately for the wrong reasons,” said Dr. Thompson.

While ESPN is reporting Mathis took Clomid, he didn’t specify that in his statement on the matter. Mathis says he asked his doctor if his prescription would be a problem with his NFL drug testing and he says the doctor misinformed him.

There are several drugs, including Clomid, that are clearly stated on the NFL Players Association banned substance list.

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