The Blue Bombers will be without their all-star running back for the Labour Day Classic and Banjo Bowl after Andrew Harris was suspended by the CFL Monday morning.
The CFL says that Harris has been suspended for two games due to testing positive for Metandienone, which is a banned substance under the drug policy of the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the Canadian Football League Players’ Association (CFLPA).
It is the first time Harris has tested positive for a banned substance in his career.
Tested three times this year: Harris
Each year the CFL carries out a total number of random tests equal to the number of the players in the CFL. However, Harris says that over the last four years that he has played in Winnipeg he has been tested more than any other player on the team.
Harris says that it's gotten "to the point that it has become a running joke within our locker room. This year alone I’ve been tested three times: The first time on March 1, 2019 in the off-season, followed by July 2nd (blood and urine samples), and finally 10 days later on July 12 through a urine sample."
Read more: Bombers' Harris sets record
Harris says that just 10 days after being tested on July 2 his July 12 results came back with a "very small trace of a banned substance.
"I’m still in shock and disbelief at the news. I immediately thought there had to be some kind of mistake." Harris says that one of his supplements must have affected by product contamination.
"As someone who has coached Andrew for four seasons now, I know first hand the hard work and dedication he puts into his career as a true professional," Head Coach Mike O'Shea says.
"Andrew has been tested eight times since becoming a member of the Blue Bombers, three times this season, including 10 days prior to the test that came back positive. While this is an extremely unfortunate situation, I support Andrew and look forward to his return in a few weeks."
Bombers President and CEO Wade Miller says that the team supports the CFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, while also supporting Harris "through this extremely difficult and unfortunate situation."
Full statement from Harris:
The Blue Bombers posted the following statement from Harris on their website Monday morning:
Throughout my four years playing here in Winnipeg, I have been drug tested more than any other player on our team to the point that it has become a running joke within our locker room. This year alone I’ve been tested three times: The first time on March 1, 2019 in the off-season, followed by July 2nd (blood and urine samples), and finally 10 days later on July 12 through a urine sample.
Somehow on July 12, just ten days after a test that came back completely clean, I was notified that I had tested positive for the first time in my career with very small trace of a banned substance. I’m still in shock and disbelief at the news. I immediately thought there had to be some kind of mistake.
The timeline makes it very clear — I was not using a banned substance for performance enhancing purposes, nor was I aware that I was taking any supplements with any banned substances in them. Based on the fact pattern, this is clearly a case of product contamination.
Nonetheless, I am devastated by the idea of missing two important games with my teammates. More importantly, I want football fans and young athletes around this country to know that I have not and would never cheat. People know my history and my background, and I have always taken tremendous pride in having overcome adversity through sheer force of will. I would never risk my career and the respect of my teammates, coaches and the fans in this manner.
I am told that this substance typically can stays in the body for up to four weeks, so trace amounts in my system 10 days after testing cleanly makes it clear that I did not purposefully ingest any banned substance.
I’ve spent countless hours of training, running, studying, rehabbing, succeeding and failing, and have put in blood sweat and tears to get to where I stand today. My road to becoming a starter in the CFL was extremely difficult, and I take a lot of pride in the honest blue collar work I’ve put in to reach this point in my career. This is why this announcement is very difficult for me.
I’ve worked very hard to get to where I am, and I pride myself on being not only a great role model to my daughter and youth throughout our country, but to my peers as well. As unsettling and painful as this is to me and my family, I hope this can be a helpful reminder to all athletes about being extremely cautious and aware of what they are taking and putting into their bodies.
I’m very sorry to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for this unexpected result, and I can’t wait to rejoin my teammates and the city of Winnipeg in our quest to bring a Grey Cup to this wonderful city that I am fortunate enough to call home. Thank you.