Nealy suspended four games

Second-year defensive lineman Spencer Nealy was informed that he will be suspended the first four games of the 2014 season after testing positive for an ingredient contained in a supplement that is on the NFL's banned substances list.

Vikings defensive lineman Spencer Nealy has been suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs.

Nealy will remain eligible to participate in training camp and the preseason before his suspension begins. If he makes the final 53-man roster, his suspension will begin Sept. 1. He will be eligible to return Monday, Sept. 29 following the fourth week of the regular season after the Vikings play Atlanta Sept. 28.

While Nealy said he was unaware that a supplement he took contained an ingredient on the NFL’s banned substance list, he accepted blame for the misunderstanding and is hopeful that the missed time won’t work against him. He believes it was an honest mistake and hopes that, through hard work, he can get himself back into the good graces of the coaching staff, his teammates and the front office.

In a statement released Friday, Nealy accepted culpability for the positive test.

“Recently I learned from the NFL that I tested positive for a stimulant that is banned under the NFL policy,” Nealy said. “I worked with my agent and the union to investigate the test results and I learned that a supplement I took contained a banned stimulant. I understand that the NFL policy is very strict, and I take responsibility. I’m very sorry for the impact of this situation on my teammates, the Vikings organization and Vikings fans. I will work extremely hard during training camp and during the suspension. I will stay in top shape and will be ready to contribute upon my return.”

In 2013, Nealy was among the final cuts the Vikings made Aug. 31 to get down to the 53-man roster. The Vikings signed him to the practice squad Nov. 12, where he spent the next four weeks. In a series of late-season roster moves because of a temporary need at running back, Nealy was released from the practice squad Dec. 10 and was re-signed to the practice squad eight days later and spent the final two weeks on the practice squad.

With the additions the Vikings have made to the defensive line in the offseason, including free agents Linval Joseph, Corey Wootton and Tom Johnson and draft picks Scott Crichton and Shamar Stephen, the competition at defensive line – for both the 53-man roster and the practice squad – is likely to be fierce. It can’t be viewed as a good sign for Nealy knowing that winning a roster spot just got a lot tougher, even if it was the result on an innocent mistake.

It should be noted that the NFL offers a hotline for players to call identifying supplements that they are taking in order to assure that they aren’t taking something that might contain a banned substance. While the NFL banned substances policy, is strict, the league informs players that they are responsible for anything they willing put in their bodies. Unfortunately, many players trust the ingredient labeling on products – some of which are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Nealy’s suspension doesn’t appear to be a case of trying to beat the system, but rather an honest mistake that happens more often than it should. Unfortunately for Nealy, his mistake may be extremely costly to him.

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.

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