The Canadian Football League has suspended Hamilton Tiger-Cats star Brandon Banks for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
He has been given a two game ban that will force him to sit out Friday’s crucial rematch against the Redblacks in Ottawa followed by Hamilton’s penultimate game of the regular season against Edmonton at Tim Hortons Field.
The CFL says Banks tested positive for a banned substance (Methylenedioxyamphetamine), adding this is his first offence under the league’s joint drug testing/substance abuse policy with the CFLPA.
An emotional Banks told the media today that he is “disappointed” and has apologized to the team for he calls a “mistake.”
LISTEN BELOW: Brandon Banks apologies for his “mistake.”
Banks says he found out about the positive test two weeks ago but offered no answers as to why the league waited until now to enact the discipline.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, Methylenedioxyamphetamine is a psychedelic hallucinogenic drug also known as MDA or MDMA and goes by the street names Molly, Sally, Sass and Sassafras.
It is closely related to ecstasy.
Players who test positive will face a two game suspension for a first doping violation, a nine game suspension for a second violation, a one-year suspension for a third violation, and a lifetime ban for a fourth violation.
Banks has release a statement, “I would like to apologize to my coaches, teammates, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats organization, and our great and loyal fans for putting myself in this situation. It’s my responsibility to know what’s on the banned substance list and there is no excuse for my violation of the rules. My mistake has not only hurt my team, but my family and friends, and for that I am extremely sorry. I will work very hard over the next two weeks to prepare myself both mentally and physically to return to the field and contribute to bringing a Grey Cup championship back to the City of Hamilton.”
The team has released a statement, saying, “The Hamilton Tiger-Cats fully endorse the Canadian Football League’s joint drug testing/substance abuse policy with the CFLPA, and we’re very disappointed to learn of Brandon’s violation. He has acknowledged his error in judgment and is now being held accountable for his actions. We support Brandon as an organization and will help him by any means possible to continue to grow as a football player and person off the field. We fully expect him to play at a high level when he returns to the lineup after serving his two-game suspension.”
Tiger-Cats head coach Kent Austin would not disclose Banks’ explanation for the positive result.
Under the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, Banks is allowed to practice with the team during his suspension.
Banks says he will use that time to get ready for the last game of the regular season against Montreal and the playoffs.
Linebacker Simoni Lawrence is calling on the CFL Players’ Association to do a better job of educating its players on what drugs are on the banned substance list.
Offensive lineman Peter Dyakowski, a member of the CFLPA executive team who helped develop the policy, says players are aware of what performance enhancing drugs are on the list but other drug classes are not as widely known.
LISTEN BELOW: Peter Dyakowski explains the CFL’s substance abuse policy.
The 28-year-old native of Garner, North Carolina was named CFL’s Special Teams Player of the Year in 2015 after scoring a league high four punt return touchdowns.
Banks has also played a minor role in Hamilton’s offence this season, making 29 receptions for 355 yards and scoring four touchdowns and has ran the ball five times for 24 yards.
Under the policy, a suspended player cannot participate in games and it is up to their team to determine whether that player can participate in other team activities, such as practices and meetings.
All players will be subject to mandatory drug testing once testing positive and will participate in an assessment and clinical evaluation to determine if they need additional counselling.
The policy mandates a total number of random tests equal to 100% of the players in the CFL.
The CFL says random testing is ongoing and is conducted year round.