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|Pats veteran strong safety Rodney Harrison, above, was suspended four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.(Courtesy of cnn.net)|
Patriots strong safety Rodney Harrison was suspended four games today by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen first made the report earlier tonight that Harrison had admitted obtaining and using Human Growth Hormone (HGH) to federal prosecutors, who were responding to a probe by Albany (NY) County district attorney David Soreas. Soreas has promised both the NFL and MLB that he will hand over names of athletes and distributors of HGH in his investigation over to federal authorities.
The Patriots told ESPN.com’s Len Pasquarelli that they are aware of the situation and are “dealing with it.”
More from Mortensen:
League sources confirmed to ESPN and ESPN.com that at least one NFL assistant coach has also been questioned in recent months by investigators as part of the probe. Sources said that the coach remains a person of interest in the investigation.
The Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union reported earlier this year that an unnamed NFL team physician used a personal credit card to purchase $150,000 in testosterone and HGH last year. The physician told investigators the drugs were for legitimate prescriptions.
The admission by Harrison has not been made public, but his name was among those known to federal and New York officials conducting a large-scale investigation into an Internet pharmaceutical distribution ring for steroids and other performance enhancers, such as HGH.
Harrison held a conference call Friday night to address his fans, teammates, coaches and colleagues. He says he only used the HGH to heal fast from injury, and maintains that he has never used steroids. His entire statement thanks to Reiss’s Pieces:
This is Rodney Harrison and I am basically here to let you all know that tomorrow the commissioner will announce I have been suspended by the NFL for violating the league policy for substance abuse. That suspension will be four games. I want to make it clear that not once did I ever use steroids. I did admit to the commissioner that I did in fact use a banned substance. My purpose was never to gain a competitive edge. Rather my use was solely for the purpose of accelerating the healing process of injuries I sustained while playing football.
I have not made excuses nor will I make excuses. I made a mistake and I am very sorry for that. I understand that I am a role model from high school, to college, to young kids. I do not condone my business, my behavior. I am very, very embarrassed by it. I am disappointed in myself. For any young person, any high schooler, any college athlete, I have been [inaudible] with my actions and I would ask, and I would not want to be the example for them, to never jeopardize what they believe in, to never jeopardize their health. And they always have to love themselves.
At this time, I would like to ask all you guys, because I know you have a hundred million questions for me, but this is a mistake, and this is something that I have done. This is nothing that my teammates were involved in and I ask that at this time the respect of my teammates not to be violated. This is something Rodney Harrison did, Rodney Harrison did alone. My teammates did not do it. So as they are preparing for the Jets and the San Diego game and Cincinnati and those games after that, I would ask that you just would give them the respect not to badger them with questions, because they do not have any information. As well as my family — I have kids, I have a wife, and I would just ask for the respect for my family. It was something I did and they should not have to go through it.
I will be absent from the team for the next four weeks. That is a penalty that I have to serve. I intend to return and do my best to really help this team in any capacity I can help this team get back to winning the championship. It has been a tough time for me. The last week or two, even before this, I have apologized to my family, which has supported me, all my friends, and now I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to my teammates. Like I said before, they never were involved with this. This is something I did and I apologize to them for being a distraction because that is the last thing we need going into the regular season. I never intended for that to happen. I apologize to the entire New England Patriots organization and the fans who have supported me so faithfully over the past five seasons here, through Super Bowls, injury, through ups and downs. They have supported me. I definitely, definitely appreciate them. At this time, that is my statement. I am not answering any questions. Like I asked before, I appreciate your patience and I just ask that you respect my teammates and my family. Thank you.