Mike Chappell (Indy Star)
Robert Mathis’ four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy won’t be rescinded, and neither will the controversy surrounding the Indianapolis Colts’ veteran linebacker cease.
Adolpho Birch, the NFL’s senior vice president of labor policy and government affairs, reaffirmed the league’s bottom-line stance during a Monday interview with ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike.”
“The policy is crystal clear that the player is responsible for what is in his body,” he said. “That is by design.
“We want to treat everybody consistently.”
Mathis admitted using Clomid late last year as he and his wife, Brandi, attempted to conceive a child.
Dr. Samuel Thompson, who treats male infertility for Urology of Indiana, said Clomid is commonly prescribed to men and insisted any physician who regularly does should realize it’s among the league’s prohibited substances. It’s on the NFL’s list of banned substances because it can be used at the end of a steroid cycle to restore the natural production of testosterone.
JIM IRSAY: Team owner joins city officials for Super Bowl bid
JEFF SATURDAY: Longtime center will help in Super Bowl push
CITY’S BID: Larger Super Bowl village planned
“As a prescriber of Clomid, I know that (it’s on the NFL’s banned list),” Thompson said. “I wouldn’t say every doctor knows necessarily what’s banned by the NFL, but I’m a doctor who does this on a daily basis for male fertility. So, yeah, I was well aware it’s a banned substance.
“It’s hard to imagine (a physician) wouldn’t know. Or that either the doctor or patient wouldn’t know. It’s readily available on the Internet. You can look it up in two seconds. And it makes sense (to be banned). It’s raising the level of a man’s testosterone. That’s abusable.”
In a statement released through the union Friday, Mathis said he “specifically asked the doctor if the medication he prescribed for me would present a problem for NFL drug testing, and unfortunately, he incorrectly told me that it would not.”
Steven Morganstern, Mathis’ Atlanta-based physician, prescribed the medication. He could not be reached by The Star, but told ESPN he wasn’t aware Mathis was an NFL player when he began treating him and never informed Mathis the fertility drug wouldn’t be a problem with the NFL’s drug testing. He added he didn’t know Clomid was on the league’s list of banned substances.
Mathis did not check with the NFL, the NFL Players Association or Colts’ physicians to determine whether using Clomid would violate league rules.
Mathis failed a drug test in November and again in December, resulting in the suspension. The NFL rejected Mathis’ attempts at mitigating the punishment. He’ll miss the first four games of the season without pay, costing him $705,882.
Thompson said no one should be surprised Clomid is used as a fertility drug for men even though it’s not FDA-approved for that purpose.
“If a drug is approved and safe for us and doctors find an alternative use that hasn’t gone through the FDA process, we can still use it as long as it’s proven to make a difference,” he said.
As a fertility drug, Thompson added, “Clomid is a treatment that helps thousands of men a year have children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to have children. It’s a valuable drug when used appropriately.”
The fertility drug, though, only is appropriate for patients who already suffer from low testosterone.
“Doctors use it in men with normal testosterone,” Thompson said, “but it’s not really proven to be very effective in that situation.”
One detail of Mathis’ situation Thompson questioned was the brief time Mathis said he took Clomid. Hadley Engelhard, Mathis’ agent, said Mathis took the drug only 10 or 12 days and stopped once his wife became pregnant.
“Clomid takes a minimum of a month of treatment to see the full effect in the blood stream,” he said.
Call Star reporter Mike Chappell at (317) 444-6830. You can follow him on Twitter at @mchappell51.