SAN DIEGO (07/02/2015) San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 regular season without pay. NFL officials say he violated the league's performance enhancing substances policy.
In released statement, Gates said he never knowingly ingested a banned substance, but he did take supplements to recover from last season and takes full responsibility for his actions.
"In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all the it entails", Gates said. "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."
Gates is still eligible to participate in off-season activities as well as preseason games. He is scheduled to return on October 12th during the Chargers' Monday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself", said the Chargers in a released statement. "We have the upmost confidence he will stay in excellent shape for the season and be ready to go when he returns in Week 5."
Gates is coming off one of the best seasons of his career, catching 69 passes for 821 yards and 12 touchdowns, which tied him with Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots and Julius Thomas of the Denver Broncos for the most by a tight end.
He is one touchdown away from hitting the 100 mark for his career, and 13 away from breaking the all-time tight end record held by Tony Gonzalez.
Fourth-year veteran Ladarius Green is expected to take over the starting role during his absence.