The NFL announced Tuesday that New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram has been suspended for the first four weeks of the 2018 season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said the team had been aware of the situation before last month’s draft and the suspension has hung over Ingram for “several weeks.”
“They never quite can tell if the player is going to win an appeal or not,” Rapoport said Tuesday. “He’s been battling this for the last several weeks. He found out today he did not win his appeal.”
On Wednesday, however, Ingram’s agent indicated the fight might not be over.
David Jones of VIP Sports Management said in a statement that Ingram “vigorously challenged” the NFL’s four-game suspension because he tested positive for a substance that wasn’t illegal.
Jones didn’t identify the substance.
“At the end of the 2017 season, as a result of a NFL mandated random drug test, Mark Ingram tested positive for a substance that was not a performance enhancing substance, nor an illegal substance, but a substance in fact permissible with the proper use exemption with the NFL,” he said. “He has vigorously challenged the test results through the arbitration process. The arbitrator’s opinion is due on or before Wednesday, May 16.
“Upon having the opportunity to review the arbitrator’s opinion, we will explore what further options are needed.”
In a statement from Mark Ingram’s reps, it reads:
Mark Ingram tested positive for a substance that was not a performance enhancing substance, nor an illegal substance, but a substance in fact permissible with the proper use exemption with the NFL pic.twitter.com/mvYeozV3OK
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) May 9, 2018
It’s unclear what other steps Jones might take to fight the decision.
The NFL reiterated to ESPN that the arbitrator has already made a final ruling on Ingram’s appeal. “NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy clarified that the outcome has been decided and that all parties have been notified,” it reported Wednesday.
Ingram’s agent also didn’t offer details on his reference to a “substance in fact permissible with the proper use exemption.”
“Without trying to play the role of pharmacist here, it sure does sound like this could be something that would classify as a PED, but also something that is prescribed by a doctor and, therefore, if the NFL is alerted ahead of time and the player is given the exemption to use it, perfectly legal under NFL standards,” said CBS Sports senior writer Will Brinson.
If the suspension stands, Ingram will miss games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants, returning to the roster Oct. 1. His first game back will be a prime-time showdown against the Washington Redskins at the Superdome.
However, he will be allowed to participate in offseason and preseason practices and games.
Ingram earned an invitation to the Pro Bowl last season after leading his team in rushing with 1,124 yards and scoring 12 touchdowns.
He and rookie Alvin Kamara became the first running back duo in NFL history to each record 1,500-plus scrimmage yards in a single season for the same team.
In Ingram’s absence, Kamara, the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2017, will likely carry the bulk of the load.
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