SAN DIEGO (AP) - San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates was suspended without pay Thursday for the first four games of the 2015 season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.
The NFL said in a statement that Gates can participate in training camp and preseason games. He will be able to return to the active roster on Oct. 5, a day after the Chargers' game against the Cleveland Browns.
Gates issued a statement through the team apologizing to the Chargers, his coaches, his teammates and the fans.
''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,'' Gate said. ''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.''
He said that as an NFL veteran, he should have made sure that what he was taking during his recovery met NFL guidelines. ''I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues, and I take full responsibility for my actions,'' Gates said.
A statement from the Chargers said the team will continue to support Gates and is confident he will be ready to play when he returns in Week 5. ''We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself,'' the statement said.
Statement from the San Diego Chargers:
"We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself. Antonio is a member of the Chargers' family and we will continue to support him 100-percent. We have the utmost confidence he will stay in excellent shape for the season and be ready to go when he returns in Week 5. While it's unfortunate to not have him to start the season, we have complete confidence our tight end group will continue to play at a high level."
Statement from Antonio Gates:
"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 I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL. In an effort to recover from this past season, I used supplements and holistic medicines, and unfortunately, I have now learned that those substances always present a risk because they may contain banned substances even if the ingredient list doesn't reflect them. 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 understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues. I take full responsibility for my actions. I'd like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my teammates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me."
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.