Suspended Giants wide receiver Golden Tate revealed Wednesday that the drug he tested positive for in April is Clomiphene.
Clomiphene (brand name Clomid) is not FDA-approved for men. It is approved for female infertility due to ovulatory disorder, and it's classified in the NFL's and NFL Players Association's collectively-bargained policy on performance-enhancing substances as an "anti-estrogenic agent."
Doctors, however, still often prescribe it to men to improve sperm count and sperm motility, or movement capability. Tate said Wednesday he was taking it "to try to have another kid."
Clomiphene is on the List of Prohibited Substances, though, classified as a "stimulant or anabolic agent." He would have received a two-game suspension for testing positive for a diuretic or masking agent. Instead, he received a four-game ban for the stimulant in his system.
Tate, 31, blamed the doctor he claims prescribed the fertility treatment to him. He said "the doctor said it was not a banned substance" and had told Tate he'd treated other NFL players the same way before.
But Tate was drug-tested, and between taking the drug test and receiving the results, he said: "I was out to dinner one night with a guy who worked for me, and we started talking about another player who was getting suspended for something completely different, and kind of a light went off in my head, 'Let me just call the doctor just to make sure, just to make myself feel better.' I asked him what the active ingredient was, and we looked it up right then and there, and sure enough it wasn't a banned substance."
Tate, however, easily could have checked with the Giants' medical and training staff before beginning treatment or consulted with the Players' Association, and he would have been told it was a banned substance.
He also could have applied for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (T.U.E.) and received permission from an independent administrator and medical adviser to undergo the treatment with the understanding it was for approved medical reasons. That would have made his positive test for Clomiphene a non-issue.
Tate should know. He admitted he has applied for T.U.E's in the past. This time, for some reason, he didn't. So why didn't he go to the league or a team doctor?
"I think ultimately just because the doctor had said, 'no, it's not a banned substance, and I have prescribed it to other NFL guys,'" Tate said. "If the doctor says, 'I'm not sure, I 100 percent would have looked into it. But (if) the doctor (had) never said he'd given it to any NFL players, I 1,000 percent would have looked into it. I've gone through the T.U.E. process for a couple medicines, and I completely understand it. That's just an honest answer."
Tate said he's accepted that "ultimately I'm responsible for what's put in my body." He said the toughest part is "I'm letting down a lot of people: my family, the guys in the locker room, the people in the organization that brought me here."
He also acknowledged that it would be "a slippery slope" for the NFL to have anything other than a zero-tolerance policy for this kind of positive test.
"If you let my situation slide then you have a number of other guys that would probably try to say the same thing and it could open up a can of worms," Tate said.
Tate and his wife also have two young children already, including his son, Golden Tate IV, who was born in late February. So Tate was asked to explain why he would need a fertility drug.
"I mean, that's pretty personal. Very, very personal," he said. "So I mean, I don't want to get into it."
Tate lamented that he had hoped "the NFL would be understanding," but that's a mischaracterization of the process, because his appeal of the suspension last week was heard by a third-party arbitrator not affiliated with the league or NFLPA.
Tate did not appreciate being asked how he could explain this suspension in the context of his 2013 comment about then-Seattle Seahawk teammates Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner. At the time, Tate called the cornerbacks "selfish" on ESPN radio for being suspended for marijuana use.
They violated a different policy, so Tate thinks the comparison was unfair.
"Do you know what they got suspended for?" Tate said. "I think that's a completely different situation than me taking a substance to try to have another kid ... It hasn't been asked of me (by teammates), so I haven't had to address it. I'll think about it, though."
Tate said there is "no doubt" this suspension will fuel him once he returns in Week 5. He will be able to participate in the remaining preseason games and practices, but he won't be allowed to contact or be around the team for the first four weeks of the regular season.
Tate's suspension could cost him up to $1.2 million for the first four weeks he's out, per former agent Joel Corry, including base salary and bonuses. And the full guarantee on his $7.975 million 2020 base salary also voids.