DeMarcus Love has rarely had a media throng encircle him in his two seasons as a member of the Vikings. But when the team announced Thursday afternoon that Love had been suspended four games for taking performance enhancing substances, he became the center of attention after Thursday's full pads practice at Minnesota State University in Mankato.
Love proclaimed his innocence, saying it had to be from a supplement he had taken but was at a loss to explain where exactly he ingested the substance that resulted in the positive test.
"Unfortunately, I got suspended for taking a banned substance, but I was totally unaware of the substance in something I took," Love said. "I tried to appeal it, but it didn't go through."
Love's best guess was that it was something he took in February or March, because he got tested by the league in March. In April, he was informed of a positive test. He still isn't sure what it was, but is convinced it was contained in a supplement he took in the offseason.
His initial reaction was one of stunned disbelief, because he felt that he had been branded as someone who cheats – a charge on which he still maintains his innocence.
"I was shocked," Love said. "I've never cheated and never will – not intentionally. Unfortunately, it's something I can't change. It happened. It didn't work out in my favor, so I have to suffer the consequences."
Head coach Leslie Frazier's reaction was similarly one of shock. But, as a coaching veteran, he has seen such positive tests and maintained the stance that players need to be better informed of what supplements they take and that anything they ingest is their own responsibility.
"I was disappointed when I got the news," Frazier said. "We sat down and talked about it and I let him know my displeasure and our entire organization's concern for him. Hopefully, he'll learn something from this and grow from it."
Frazier's displeasure was the result of situations like the StarCaps case, in which Pat Williams and Kevin Williams were both suspended for testing positive to a banned substance – even though the substance wasn't listed on the packaging label. Ignorance is no longer a viable excuse these days.
"The league has done a good job of trying to educate players on what they can and can't do and how they're responsible for anything that goes in their bodies," Frazier said. "There are measures in place to help guys to identify whatever product they're using to determine whether or not it's a viable product."
Love will serve the suspension during the first four games of the regular season. He can participate in all the preseason games.
Love was facing a roster-spot challenge this year and has yet to play in an NFL game. In his rookie season of 2011, he was inactive for all 16 games. Last year, he was placed on injured reserve in August and missed the entire season. With no assurance of making the roster with or without the positive test, Love hopes that his story could have a benefit to other players about the pitfalls of taking supplements that could impact your playing career.
"It's bad for me, but it also gives other guys a heads up so they know you really have to watch what you put in your body," Love said. "Whatever it is, they'll find it and you'll eventually have to pay for it. I think a lot of guys on the team can learn from my mistake."
The pain still runs deep for Love, who fears his tenuous hold on a roster spot that might be in jeopardy. He's ready to face up to the consequences because he's been dealing with the cloud of suspicion over his head since April – even though the rest of the outside world only learned about it Thursday.
"I'm really hurt about it," Love said. "I don't want to be sad about it or harp on it, because I've already been through that before training camp – just waiting for everything to be behind me and move forward."
The big question facing Love now is whether the process of moving forward will be as a member of the Minnesota Vikings or not.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Love: ‘I've never cheated … intentionally'
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