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Antonio Gates Suspended For Using Performance Enhancing Substances

San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, center, bobbles and catches a pass in between the Oakland Raiders strong safety Brandian Ross (29) and free safety Charles Woodson (24) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, in San Diego.
Gregory Bull / Associated Press
San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, center, bobbles and catches a pass in between the Oakland Raiders strong safety Brandian Ross (29) and free safety Charles Woodson (24) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, in San Diego.

Antonio Gates, the eight-time Pro Bowl tight end for the Chargers, was suspended by the National Football League Thursday for violating its policy on performance enhancing substances.

The 12-year veteran will miss the first four games of the upcoming regular season, and will regain his eligibility Oct. 5, according to a league statement.

Gates will be allowed to participate in exhibition games and preseason practices.

In a statement, Gates said takes full responsibility for his actions.

"I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL," Gates said.

"In an effort to recover from this past season, I used supplements and holistic medicines, and unfortunately, I have now learned that those substances always present a risk because they may contain banned substances even if the ingredient list doesn't reflect them," Gates said. "As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines."

Gates, who has caught 788 passes and scored 99 touchdowns in his career, added, "I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues."

"I'd like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my teammates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me," he said.

A statement from the Chargers said the team backs him 100 percent.

"We have the utmost confidence he will stay in excellent shape for the season and be ready to go when he returns in Week 5. While it's unfortunate to not have him to start the season, we have complete confidence our tight end group will continue to play at a high level."