Tight end Antonio Gates will miss the first four games of the 2015 regular season after violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.
Gates, who said he uses a holistic approach to help his body recover, said he never "knowingly ingested" any illegal substances. He took full responsibility for the issue.
“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," Gates said through a statement. "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."
The suspension will lift Monday, October 5, so Gates will first be eligible for the Monday night game against Pittsburgh on Oct. 12.
In a statement, the Chargers organization said the following:
"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.”
Gates led the team in touchdowns last season (12) and is the organization's all-time leader in catches (788), yardage (10,014) and touchdowns (99).