Cummings: We know Doug Martin is suspended but for what?

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The days-long mystery behind Coach Dirk Koetter’s “football’’ decision to bench running back Doug Martin for the Buccaneers biggest game of the year last week has been solved.

The mystery behind the NFL-mandated suspension that prompted the benching has not.

At the same time that the NFL announced on Wednesday that Martin has been suspended for four games for violating its policy on performance enhancing drugs, Martin announced something quite different.

“I was notified last week of a four-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy,’’ Martin said in a statement. “My initial instinct was to appeal the suspension and finish the season with my teammates.

“However, after numerous discussions with people close to me – including Coach (Dirk) Koetter – I am starting the suspension immediately so I can enter a treatment facility and receive the help I truly need.’’

Now, Martin’s statement would seem to suggest that he is seeking help to correct a recreational drug habit. After all, he made no mention of violating the NFL’s PED policy.

Now, it’s possible that Martin is indeed seeking help for dependence on PEDs (Adderall perhaps?) as medical research has indeed found that in some cases athletes can become dependent on performance enhancing drugs.

According to an article titled “Sports, use of performance enhancing drugs and addiction. A conceptual and epidemiological review” and published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information some athletes are more prone to addiction of PEDs than others.

Per the article, “A sub-group of individuals that practice certain types of sports in an intensive way, that use both performance enhancing drugs and addictive substances and that engage in health risk taking behaviors have an increased risk for developing a dependence syndrome to both addictive and performance enhancing drugs.

“This sub-group is even more at risk because some performance enhancing drugs (anabolic steroids) could increase the risk for occurrence of a substance dependence syndrome through neuro-biological actions. Yet, the few available clinical studies show that at most only half of regular users actually meet criteria for dependence.’’

Whether Martin falls into that sub group of regular users or not is hard to know. What we do know is that Martin is done for this year and will also have to sit out the first three games of next season.

By then Martin may no longer even be with the Buccaneers. Part of the fallout from his suspension is that it allows the Bucs to void whatever’s left of the $15 million guarantee he earned as part of the five-year, $35.75 million contract he signed last spring.

That deal calls for Martin to receive another $7 million in guarantees for 2017 (his entire 2017 salary in essence), but the suspension allows the team to void that, which means the Bucs could eventually cut Martin without taking a hit on their salary cap.

No matter how you look at it, the Bucs running back corps, once seemingly so solid, is now in a major state of flux, what with Charles Sims being placed on IR on Wednesday with a torn pectoral muscle.

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