Antonio Gates banned for use of banned substance

San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates is one of a number of players banned by the NFL for breaches of the league’s drug policy.

Gates will miss the first four games of the 2015 season for taking a banned substance, with New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson and Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain handed the same punishment.

Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Datone Jones was handed a one-game ban.

The 35-year-old Gates was scheduled to make $5.9m in the final year of his deal with the Chargers, and the suspension will cost him almost $350,000.

He scored 12 touchdowns last season and his next score will be his 100th in the league – he has caught a total of 788 passes for 10,014 yards and 99 touchdowns in a glittering career.

“I take full responsibility for my actions,” Gates said.

“I’d like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my team-mates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me.”

“In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails.

“I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and never taken any substance that was illegal or banned by the NFL.

“In an effort to recover from a long season and although I was unaware at the time, I regret to confirm that I tested positive for a substance that is currently on the NFL banned substance list.

“As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues.”