Pats' Spikes suspended, cites medication as banned substance

The NFL has suspended New England Patriots rookie linebacker Brandon Spikes for four games without pay for violating its policy on performance-enhancing substances, the league announced Friday.

"Spikes' suspension begins immediately," the NFL said in a statement. "He will be eligible to return to the Patriots' active roster on Monday, January 3 following the team's final regular season game on January 2 against the Miami Dolphins."

That means Spikes is eligible to participate in all playoff games, should the Patriots make the postseason. They own the AFC's best record at 10-2.

"I've been contacted by the NFL and informed that I will be suspended four games for the detection of an illegal substance in a drug test," Spikes said in a statement. "The substance was a medication that I should have gotten clarification on before taking. It was not a performance enhancer or an illegal drug. The integrity of the game is very important to me. I understand the league's ruling and apologize to my teammates, the fans and the Patriots organization for this mistake."

Spikes has 61 tackles, fourth-most on the team, and one interception in 12 games this season. The Patriots selected the former University of Florida star in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

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