DeAndre Hopkins never denied ingesting a banned substance. He just denied that he did so knowingly.
Now the NFLPA is backing up his claim while disputing an NFL Network report that stated he ingested a banned and substance and took a masking agent in an effort to hide it. The union issued its statement on Tuesday in support of the suspended Arizona Cardinals wide receiver.
"On may 2, 2002, the NFL Network reported that DeAndre Hopkins' suspension came after producing a positive result for a 'prohibited substance plus a diuretic or masking agent/attempt to substitute, dilute or adulterate a specimen/attempt to manipulate a test result.'
"This reporting was incorrect as Hopkins never tested positive for any diuretic or masking agent and there was absolutely no evidence of any attempt to substitute, dilute or adulterate any specimen or any attempt to manipulate a test."
The insinuation here is that the use of a masking agent implies awareness of the ingestion of a banned substance and intent to cover it up. The absence of a masking agent maintains plausible deniability that the ingestion of a substance was intentional.
NFLN issues correction
The May 2 NFL Network story on Hopkins' suspension now includes a correction that makes no mention of a "diuretic or masking agent," and any language referencing such in the original copy has been removed. From the revised NFL Network story:
"CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story included an erroneous description of the test result that led to Hopkins' suspension. Language from the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances on the circumstances in which a first-time violation would result in an eight-game suspension was incorrectly applied to Hopkins' six-game suspension. That description has been removed."
Hopkins admits to testing positive, denies intent to ingest PED
The NFL suspended Hopkins on May 2 for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. Hopkins responded to the suspension with a statement that he was "not careful enough" in monitoring what he put into his body, implying that he indeed ingested a banned substance.
"In my 10-year NFL career, I have never tested positive for using performance enhancing drugs," Hopkins statement reads. "To learn that my November test came back with trace elements of a banned substance, I was confused and shocked.
"I am very mindful of what I put in my body and have always taken a holistic approach, so I am working with my team to investigate how this could've happened. But even as careful as I have been, clearly I wasn't careful enough."
On June 23, Hopkins told reporters that he tested positive for ostarine, a substance that stimulates muscle growth and is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, NCAA and the NFL. The USADA issued a warning in 2017 that ostarine, which it describes as "not approved for human use or consumption," was increasingly found illegally added to dietary supplements without being noted on labels.
"There was 0.1 percent found in my system," Hopkins told reporters. "If you know what that is, you know it's contamination, not something taken directly. I don't take any supplements. I've never taken supplements. I barely take vitamins.
"So for something like that to happen to me, obviously I was shocked. But my team and I, we're still trying to figure out what's going on."
Hopkins is suspended for the first six games of the season. The five-time All-Pro receiver will be eligible to return in Week 7 against the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 7.
This article originally appeared on Yahoo Sports at https://sports.yahoo.com/nflpa-refutes-nfl-network-report-that-de-andre-hopkins-used-masking-agent-to-cover-up-ped-use-224349041.html