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Robert Mathis’s agent accuses the NFL of misleading the public

Robert Mathis

Indianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis celebrates a turnover by the Tennessee Titans during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)


The agent for Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis is continuing his public campaign against the NFL as a result of the league suspending Mathis four games for violating the policy against performance-enhancing substances.

On Friday, agent Hadley Englehard accused the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell of acting in an “unjust and unfair” way. That led to a rare response from the NFL defending its suspension of Mathis. Today, Englehard said on Mike & Mike that the league’s statement defending Mathis’s suspension was misleading.

“They released a statement, which the NFL never does, and even in their statement, they’re misleading the public,” Englehard said.

What Englehard said was misleading was the NFL’s focus on the fact that the drug Mathis used, Clomid, is FDA approved only for women, not for men. Englehard said that doesn’t mean men can’t legitimately use it as a fertility drug.

“There’s many drugs that are not FDA approved for certain things and are used for other things, and the doctor, in direct and cross examination, even talked about that: He’s been using this as a fertility drug for 20-plus years. There’s not one shred of evidence, there’s not one shred of testimony, that says anything but, Robert used it not for anything but fertility. He used it for a short period of time, 10 to 12 days, once he found out his wife was pregnant he stopped taking it. He has the left over medication from it. There is not one shred of evidence that he used it for other than fertility,” Englehard said.

But even if that’s true, if Clomid enhanced Mathis’s performance (and some people believe Clomid boosts men’s testosterone levels and therefore elevates their athletic performance), then it’s reasonable for the NFL to suspend Mathis.

Englehard also noted that the NFL sometimes gives therapeutic-use exemptions to players to allow them to use prescription drugs for medical purposes, even if those drugs are on the banned list. Englehard said the NFL has done that for players who use Adderall, and Englehard said the league even rescinded the fine and suspension for one of his own clients in a similar situation. According to Englehard, the NFL has even given multiple therapeutic-use exemptions to other players who use Clomid for fertility, and Englehard is baffled that the NFL is treating Mathis so harshly while allowing other players to use the same substance.

Still, Englehard acknowledged that Mathis didn’t handle this according to protocol: If NFL players get a prescription from a doctor for a substance that’s on the banned list, they’re supposed to first go to the league and ask for an exemption, and only begin using the drug after they receive the exemption. Mathis didn’t tell the league he was using Clomid until after he had already tested positive for it.

If the NFL allows players to get an exemption after they’ve already failed a drug test, then any player who can come up with a plausible story has a free pass to use performance enhancers. The NFL may have been harsh with Mathis in this case, but harsh treatment of players who fail drug tests is the only way to crack down on performance-enhancing drugs.