Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker has been suspended four games for violating the NFL’s drug policy, the team announced Tuesday.
Welker was suspended for the use of amphetamines, FOX Sports 1 NFL Insider Mike Garafolo has confirmed.
Welker will be eligible to return to the roster following the team’s Monday night game against the Cardinals on Oct. 5.
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An appeal has already been denied. FOX Sports NFL Insider Jay Glazer reports that the Broncos had known about Welker’s suspension since before training camp began, but held out hope that the appeal would reverse it.
"Tonight’s news regarding Wes is very disappointing for our team, but we understand the league’s authority in this area," Broncos coach John Fox said in a release from the team. "While it’s unfortunate to not have him to start the year, I have full confidence in our wide receivers and expect that group to continue playing at a high level.
"I have no doubt that Wes will remain focused on his preparations for the season and stay in excellent shape during his time away from the team."
This news comes just a day after Welker rejoined Broncos practice after missing time due to a concussion suffered during an Aug. 23 preseason game.
"I’m as shocked as everyone at today’s news," Welker said in an e-mail to The Denver Post. "I want to make one thing abundantly clear: I would NEVER knowingly take a substance to gain a competitive advantage in any way. Anyone who has ever played a down with me, lifted a weight with me, even eaten a meal with me, knows that I focus purely on what I put in my body and on the hard work I put in year round to perform at the highest levels year-in and year-out.
"I want any youth football players and all sports fans to know, there are NO shortcuts to success, and nothing but hard work and studying, leads to success.
"I have never been concerned with the league’s performance-enhancing or drug-abuse policies because under no scenario would they ever apply to me, but I now know, that (drug-policy procedures) are clearly flawed, and I will do everything in my power to ensure they are corrected, so other individuals and teams aren’t negatively affected so rashly like this."
Welker is starting his second season in Denver. He caught 73 passes for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013, despite missing almost four games due to injury.
The news is another blow to the Broncos’ receiving corps. Welker is one of only four wide receivers who caught passes for Denver last season. Another, Eric Decker, is now with the New York Jets. Welker and Decker combined for 37 percent of the Broncos’ receiving yards a year ago and 38 percent of receiving touchdowns.
The Broncos signed Emmanuel Sanders, who had 740 receiving yards and six touchdowns for the Steelers last season, and drafted Cody Latimer to help at the position.