The 28-year-old, who plays linebacker for the New York Jets, served a four-game suspension and was reinstated yesterday. Copeland did not name the company or the supplement. He said a nutritionist recommended it to help his body recover.
Who is at fault?
According to the Associated Press, Copeland claims he sent the supplement in question to other nutritionists and they verified the ingredients were not among those banned by the league. The linebacker said he also did his own homework by checking the ingredients on the NFL’s app.
Since Copeland did not name the company he is blaming for his performance-enhancing drugs (PED) violation, it’s unclear if the supplement received third-party certifications such as NSF Certified for Sport, BSCG or Informed Choice. Once he was handed the notice that he failed the test, Copeland sent all the supplements he was taking to a third-party lab for testing, which he said confirmed that one of the supplements had the banned substance in it.
Copeland, who teaches a financial literacy class at the University of Pennsylvania, has a salary listed at $1.2 million for this season. So the suspension could have cost him as much as $300,000 in lost wages.
Paying the price
“A lot of people ask, ‘Why don’t you just test your stuff?’ Well, you pay $30, $40 for a supplement and then you’ve got to pay $745 for a laboratory to test and it takes them multiple weeks to do it,” said Copeland, according to the AP.
Oliver Catlin, President of the Anti-Doping Sciences Institute & Banned Substances Control Group, told NutraIngredients-USA it’s on athletes to do their due diligence: “The most important thing athletes can do to protect themselves is to use third-party certified products and to make sure that the actual lot they are using has been tested by searching program databases for the lot number. Even if there is a certification seal on a product it does not necessarily mean the lot in hand has been tested. Testing may only be done monthly or on a subset of finished product lots and not all programs are transparent about batch testing frequency. Occasionally, brands may not be in compliance with ongoing testing requirements that are part of certification programs.”