NEW YORK - The National Football League has slapped Doug Martin with a four-game suspension after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back failed a drugs test.
The ban begins with this week's final regular season game against the Carolina Panthers and Martin has now entered a treatment facility.
Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter earlier benched the Pro Bowl running back in Saturday's 31-24 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
"I was notified last week of a four-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy," Martin said Wednesday in a statement released by the team.
"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 Koetter -- I am starting the suspension immediately so I can enter a treatment facility and receive the help I truly need.
"On the field, I must be strong and determined to push through both pain and injuries to become an elite NFL running back. Off the field, I have tried that same approach in my personal life.
"My shortcomings in this area have taught me both that I cannot win these personal battles alone and that there is no shame in asking for help."
Martin also apologized to the club owners, teammates and the fans.
"Adversity yields opportunity and I ask for your support in my battle to overcome these personal issues."
The 27-year-old Martin signed a five-year, $35.7 million contract, with $15 million guaranteed, in the offseason after finishing second in the NFL in rushing in 2015 with 1,402 yards.