WINNIPEG — Blue Bombers running back Andrew Harris says a case of product contamination led to his positive test for an anabolic steroid.
The CFL announced Monday that Harris been suspended two games for positive test for Metandienone, a banned substance under the joint drug policy of the league and the CFL Players’ Association.
“It’s been devastating. It’s been hard to focus on football,” said Harris during a press conference Monday. “After we win a game, I’m thinking about what’s going to happen in a couple of days or possibly next week, and how this is going to affect my team and the journey we’re on. I don’t want to be a distraction. I would never want to put my team in jeopardy or myself in jeopardy, or my career. Now I’ve got to face the music and just try to move on.”
Harris said he believes a legal nutritional supplement tainted with Metandieone, an anabolic steroid and performance enhancing drug commonly sold under the brand name Dianabol, caused him to test positive.
“I’ve known about this for three weeks,” he said “This has been extremely hard.”
Both of Harris’ A and B samples tested positive, which means the appeal process has already been completed.
“When I first found out I didn’t even really believe it. I was kind of beside myself,” he said. “I just wanted answers. Getting that B sample is something we went through, and it was the same answer. So at that point there was not much else you can do.”
Since learning of his positive test, Harris moved into the CFL’s Top 10 all-time rushing list, while also becoming the all-time leader among Canadian players in yards from scrimmage.
“I took a supplement… that stated it was all natural ingredients. Obviously it wasn’t. And I’m taking full responsibility for the fact that I did take that. But from the ingredients listed on the label, it said all natural.”
Harris claims been tested for banned substances more often than any of his Blue Bombers teammates; eight times since joining his hometown Blue Bombers in 2016, he said, including three times this year.
Harris said his blood and urine were clean when tested March 1 and again on July 2 before a positive urine sample was collected in a third test conducted July 12.
“The one thing I have on my side is the timing and the volume,” said Harris. “I’ve been tested three times this year, I’ve been tested more than any other player in my four years here, and I’ve never had an issue.
“If I was intentionally taking this substance, there would be more of a volume in my system, instead of a small trace.”
Harris would not reveal the specific supplement he ingested.
“It was a men’s male energy supplement. It’s basically anti-oxidant, multi-vitamin, and then there’s some natural testosterone enhancers. A lot of these companies work with different labs and different manufacturers, and my assumption is that’s where it came from. I’m going to be working on trying to figure out the actual source.”
Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea believes Harris did not ingest a banned substance on purpose.
“Ultimately, every athlete in any sport that has a drug-testing policy is responsible for what they ingest,” O’Shea said. “And Andrew knew that. He’s not sidestepping that. He’s responsible for that. Just the fact he was tested 10 days prior with a blood and urine sample, and that came back clean…. to me it’s pretty evident he ingested something in a supplement that he was unaware was contaminated and then tested positive 10 days later.”
O’Shea was asked for his initial reaction after learning Harris tested positive.
“Obviously disbelief, and feel for the guy. Andrew’s worked so bloody hard to get to where he’s at, and to do things the right way. Certainly shock, and then want to make sure he’s OK,” O’Shea said.
There has been clear support from Harris’ teammates as roughly 10 Blue Bombers players entered Monday’s press conference at IG Field.
“I’m one of those people who that supports my friends in triumph and turmoil,” said Winnipeg quarterback Matt Nichols. “Obviously it’s a tough situation for Andrew but I think more than anything it’s a lesson that with all the supplement companies out there, there’s a lot that’s cross-contaminated and there’s a lot of cases like this thing happening.”
The CFL’s current rushing leader will miss the annual Labour Day Classic and Banjo Bowl back-to-backs between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders, and will be eligible to return to the field following Winnipeg’s bye week when they face the Montreal Alouettes on Sept. 21.