Golden Tate on suspension: ‘I’m not trying to cheat’

On Tuesday, the NFL announced that Giants WR Golden Tate would be suspended for the first four games of the 2019 season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Tate, 31, who had appealed the suspension, which was denied by the league, will be able to return Week 5 against the Vikings. The 10-year veteran signed with the Giants this offseason after spending time with the Lions and Eagles last season.

Today, Tate addressed the suspension with the media.

Here is what he had to say:

Q: You seem surprised by the ruling, why is that?

Tate: I just thought after we looked at the facts and the situation that the NFL would be understanding. It’s kind of a non-tolerance policy. They upheld the suspension.

Q: What was the substance?

Tate: Clomiphene

Q: How did you find out that wasn’t allowed?

Tate: A few weeks after my test, I went back and spoke to the doctor. Initially, the doctor said it was not a banned substance. In fact, he had given it to other NFL players, which is why I trusted it and kept living my life. I was out to dinner one night with a guy who worked for me and he started talking about another player who was getting suspended for something completely different. A light went off in my head and I said let me call the doctor to make sure, to make myself feel better. I asked him what the active ingredient was and he looked it up right then and there and sure enough it was a banned substance.

Q: How frustrating is it, this decision that was rendered here?

Tate: It’s very frustrating. I have no problem with accepting the punishment. I’m responsible for what’s put into my body, ultimately. The tough thing I am dealing with is I’m letting down a lot of people. My family, the guys in the locker room, the people in the organization that brought me here. That’s kind of what’s been crushing me with this whole situation. I’m taking it day by day, the Giants have been overly supportive of this situation and worked with me throughout. I’m just ready to move on and get back to playing football. I guess my wife put it into perspective for me, although these times are very, very hard on me because I love this game and I take it very, very seriously. I think I’ve had a clean slate for the majority of my career. She put it into perspective yesterday. She said I played 182 games in my career, four games is a small part of that. Although right now it’s very hard to swallow and hard to deal with, she kind of put it into perspective.

Q: Why didn’t you go to the league or the team doctor before taking it?

Tate: I think ultimately because the doctor had said no, it’s not a banned substance and I have prescribed it to other NFL guys. If the doctor says I’m not sure, I would have 100 percent looked into it.  If the doctor never said he had never given it to other NFL players, I 1,000 percent would have looked into it. I’ve gone through the TUE process for a couple medicines and I completely understand it.

Q: Are you going to take any action against the doctor?

Tate: We are definitely looking into it, we are kind of examining all of our options. This all came out a few days ago, so I’m still trying to get through camp, trying my best to focus and continue to be a leader for this organization, and practice hard.

Q: How do you think the league should adjust how they view these things?

Tate: I don’t have all the answers. It’s a slippery slope. If you let my situation slide, then you have other guys that would probably try to say the same thing and it can open up a can of worms, that’s what I’m assuming. I have some ideas that I’m going to present to the NFL when the time comes. I think there are some ways to work with the players. (Inaudible).

Q: Is this one of those drugs that could have been a therapeutic use exemption had you gone to them before you took it?

Tate: I believe so.

Q: And you didn’t go to the league because the doctor told you it wasn’t banned?
Tate: Yes.

Q: You said that he told you he gave the same treatment to a couple other players. Did you find out who they were? Did you try to get them to testify on your behalf? Did you find out whether those guys had been suspended before?

Tate: Because of HIPAA, he wasn’t able to reveal those people.

Q: What is your plan, since you can’t be around the team those four games because of the rules with the suspension. What is your plan for those first four weeks? Where are you going to work out? Are you going to stay here?

Tate: I have to figure out what’s allowed as far as communication with the coaches and people inside the building.

Q: I don’t think you can be here.

Tate: Yeah, I know that. I’m not sure about the communication part. I’m going to get with (Strength and Conditioning) Coach Wellman and get an intense workout plan or something that allows me to stay in tip-top shape so once I get back in Week 5 I can hit the ground running. Like every year, you kind of use camp to get in shape for the season. I have to come in that Monday after the fourth game ready to rock and roll and ready to be rolling. Again, this is all new to me and I was expecting not to have this suspension, but I am going to deal with it. I’m going to deal with it the best I possibly can, stay positive and continue to try to lead this team and just work through it.

Q: Do you think this will fuel your fire even more once you get back on the football field?

Tate: No doubt.

Q: How do you mentally move forward from this for the rest of the year once you come back?

Tate: I think you just take it day-by-day. I honestly think the hardest part is just about over. I’ve been thinking about this since April or May. This has been on my mind. I’ve lost a lot of sleep. It has kind of hurt me to my core having to explain to the organization what’s going on. I’m just ready to move forward. I just want to play football. Look at me, I’m not trying to cheat. I think I have represented the NFL shield pretty well in my career. I have achieved a lot of things, and I hope this doesn’t smear that reputation that I have worked very hard for.

Q: I don’t mean to pry, but a lot of people have written stuff saying your wife had a baby earlier this year, why does he need a fertility drug – can you answer that?

Tate: That’s pretty personal. Very, very personal, so I don’t want to get into it.

Q: You have said in the past, I think 2013, that it was selfish that two other guys on your team at the time had gotten suspended. Do you know what they got suspended for? I think it was for drugs like marijuana or something?

Tate: I think that’s a completely different situation than me taking a substance to try to have another kid.

Q: I was just going to say, if the players in the locker room felt the same here what would you say to them?

Tate: It hasn’t been asked of me, so I haven’t had to address it. I’ll think about that one though.

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