When news broke on Tuesday that New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram was suspended four games for a violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, the only thing left was the statement of denial.
That came on Wednesday morning, via Ingram’s agents. Interestingly, the statement said he 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.”
The statement, via Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, said Ingram “vigorously challenged” the test results through arbitration and the arbitrator’s opinion is due on May 16.
Statement from Mark Ingram's agents, who are appealing his suspension. pic.twitter.com/UDcRfLAjCa
— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) May 9, 2018
While Ingram might have taken a substance that is permissible with a proper use exemption, it appears he didn’t have that exemption or he wouldn’t have been suspended for the positive test. The statement says Ingram will “explore what further options are needed” after reading the arbitrator’s opinion, but dozens of NFL players who have tried fighting a league ruling will tell you how that usually turns out.
Ingram’s suspension — and a subsequent report from NFL Network that he’s unhappy with his contract and not participating in the team’s offseason program — isn’t the best news for the Saints. It’s also not a death blow. The Saints, with second-year superstar Alvin Kamara, can withstand the loss of their other key running back. Their four opponents during the suspension are the Buccaneers and Browns at home and the Falcons and Giants on the road, and that’s not the toughest path. Assuming Ingram realizes he has to play well in his final 12 games of the 2018 season before he hits free agency, and he has no real leverage with the Saints, New Orleans will probably benefit from a fresh Ingram when he reports on Oct. 1.
Until then we can peruse Ingram’s strong denial, though we’ve heard plenty of those before from suspended NFL players.
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