Report: Julian Edelman tested positive for unrecognizable substance

Last week came word that the NFL had suspended New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman for the first four games of the regular season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

And while Edelman said in an Instagram statement he didn’t know what happened to get the failed test, a Monday report leaves all of us wondering what happened.

‘Substance wasn’t immediately recognizable’

In his weekly catch-all column on The MMQB, Albert Breer writes that he was told “Edelman’s result was triggered by a substance that wasn’t immediately recognizable, and there are scientists analyzing it.”

Breer further writes that the test was taken a couple of months ago, during the offseason, which he surmises means it isn’t for a stimulant.

So what is it?

You have to think that the NFL and whatever testing service it uses know of hundreds of different substances, ones that would – and wouldn’t – trigger a positive test. So it seems really strange that Edelman reportedly tested positive for something that wasn’t recognized.

In the immediate aftermath of news of the suspension, there were some who wondered if Edelman’s working with Alex Guerrero, Tom Brady’s longtime “body coach” and friend, had anything to do with the failed test.

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Julian Edelman through the years
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Julian Edelman through the years
FOXBOROUGH, MA - SEPTEMBER 22: New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman stiff arms a Houston Texans player during the third quarter at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Sept. 22, 2016. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
KENT, OH - SEPTEMBER 30, 2006: Quarterback Julian Edelman #11 of the Kent State Golden Flashes throws a pass during a game against the Akron Zips on September 30, 2006 at Dix Stadium in Kent, Ohio. Kent State won 37-15. (Photo by: Tom Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 20: Dwight Lowery #21 of the New York Jets attempts to tackle Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots at Giants Stadium on September 20, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots runs for yards after the catch against the Baltimore Ravens during the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Ravens won 33-14. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH - NOVEMBER 21: After the Patriots Julian Edelman (#11) returned a third quarter punt return 72 yards for a touchdown that put New England ahead 24-3, he got congratulations from head coach Bill Belichick, with special teams coach Scott O'Brien waiting his turn at far left. The New England Patriots hosted the Kansas City Chiefs in a Monday Night Football NFL regular season game at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - OCTOBER 11: Wes Welker, left, and Julian Edelman during practice as the New England Patriots prepare for their upcoming game Sunday against Seattle. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 18: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots catches a pass before a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on November 18, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - SEPTEMBER 12: Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman looks for some yardage after a second quarter catch. The Jets Antonio Allen is in pursuit at left. The New England Patriots take on the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 18: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots makes a catch during play against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 18, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 24-20. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 24: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 celebrates with wide receiver Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots after scoring against the Denver Broncos during a game at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 8: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates the game-winning touchdown with Julian Edelman #11 in the 4th quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 8, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 15: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball past the attempted tackle by Chris Clemons #30 of the Miami Dolphins on December 15, 2013 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 24-20. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 27: Patriots player Julian Edelman spoke to fans and members of the media after practice. The New England Patriots training camp continued at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, July 27, 2014. (Photo by Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 22: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady #12 talk on the sideline in the fourth quarter against Carolina Panthers in a preseason game at Gillette Stadium on August 22, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 05: Julian Edelman #11 and Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots run onto the field before a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium on October 5, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 26: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots warms up before a game against the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium on October 26, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 18: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots runs on to the field before the 2015 AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on January 18, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots throws a touchdown pass to Danny Amendola #80 during the second half of the 2015 AFC Divisional Playoffs game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 27: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots addresses the media at Super Bowl XLIX Media Day Fueled by Gatorade inside U.S. Airways Center on January 27, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball in the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 and Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots celebrate after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 to win Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the trophy ceremony after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 to win Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
BOSTON - FEBRUARY 4: Julian Edelman does his touch down spike as fans cheer along the parade route during New England Patriots Super Bowl victory parade. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 10: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots looks on during warm ups before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 11: Wide receiver Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots dives into the endzone to score on a 59 yard touchdown reception against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half of the NFL game at AT&T Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 8: New England Patriots' Julian Edelman signals first down in after a 7-yard reception in front of Washington Redskins' Will Compton during first quarter action. The New England Patriots hosted the Washington Redskins in a regular season NFL football game at Gillette Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots reacts after defeating the Miami Dolphins 31-24 at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
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Guerrero has a history of promoting nutritional supplements that he dubiously claims can do things like cure concussions and help terminally ill individuals, and he’s been investigated by the Federal Trade Commission.

Guerrero defended himself, and released a statement; after saying the news of Edelman’s suspension was disappointing, he added, “Elite athletes sometimes work with multiple coaches and health professionals as part of their training.

“Here at our facility, we take a natural, holistic, appropriate and, above all, legal approach to training and recovery for all of our clients. And anyone who would suggest otherwise is irresponsible, and just plain wrong.”

Did NFL overreact?

There’s one other question: if the substance is unrecognizable, as Breer was told, why did the NFL suspend Edelman for it? Are they assuming guilt first, and will reverse course later if it’s not found to be a performance-enhancer?

Edelman, who missed all of 2017 after suffering a torn ACL in the Patriots’ third preseason game, has appealed the suspension. The 32-year-old been taking part in the team’s offseason program, including last week’s mandatory mini-camp.

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