The New York Giants will soon find out if they will have wide receiver Golden Tate available for the first quarter of the 2019 season. Tuesday, Tate will leave practice — he might even have to leave practice early — and immediately head to New York City to make his case regarding his suspension for a performance enhancing substance.
Tate’s suspension was originally announced by the NFL on July 27th, adding another hit to an already-reeling Giants’ receiving corps.
Tate’s appeal will be heard by an independent arbitrator who has been agreed upon by both the NFL and NFLPA. The NFL has multiple independent arbitrators, and assigns appeals to them randomly. That is done to ensure that neither the arbitrator, NFL, nor player know who will be hearing what case to prevent any kind of bias.
From there arbitrator will have three days to reach a ruling on Tate’s appeal.
While Tate maintains that he had no intention of gaining a competitive advantage — he blames the positive test on a fertility treatment — it doesn’t seem likely at this point that he will see his suspension overturned. It is rare for PED suspensions to be overturned and generally requires a process error or some sort of extenuating circumstances.
Former Giant Andre Brown had a four-game suspension after he tested positive for Adderall, He didn’t file the appropriate paperwork on time that year (2012), but the suspension was overturned when he presented evidence that he had been taking the medication for diagnosed ADHD since he had been in the NFL.
Richard Sherman was able to win his appeal when he was able to show that a sample was not collected properly.
Finally, Houston Texans defensive tackle Duane Brown had a 10-game suspension lifted when he was able to prove that his positive test came from eating tainted meat.
Tate does not dispute that he took the banned substance, but insists that he didn’t realize it was in the fertility drug until after it was in his body.
Indianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis faced a nearly identical situation in 2014, and the NFL was firm in its ruling.
In a statement to the Indianapolis Star, the NFL said, “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.”
Later, NFL vice-president of labor issues and government policy said on ESPN, “In rare instances we have adjusted discipline, but that comes in the applicability and interpretation of the policy itself. There’s a high standard and it’s very rare it occurs. The players in Balco, we reduced that discipline to a fine. That was with (the cooperation of the) Players Association based on the legitimate question whether we had the right to test those specimens.
Here there is no dispute. The player failed to follow the requirements. It’s a rare situation (a reduction) has to be predicated on more than, ‘We believe this one should be handled differently because it’s unique.’”
We will have to wait and see if the suspension is lifted or reduced, but the precedent isn’t good for Tate.