A positive test for any substance in the NFL's PED program results in an automatic four-game suspension, even for a first-time offense.
According to Pro Football Talk, Welker took "Molly," or pure MDMA, at the Kentucky Derby and it was cut with amphetamines. While taking the pure MDMA alone likely would not subject Welker to suspension for a first-time positive test, the drug sometimes contains an amphetamine component, which falls under the league's PED policy, and led to Welker's punishment.
Welker had recently returned to the practice field after suffering his third concussion in 10 months during a preseason game on Aug. 23. He had not been cleared for contact and was still questionable for Sunday night's regular season opener against the Colts. The Broncos first four opponents -- the Colts, Chiefs, Seahawks and Cardinals -- combined to win more than 70 percent of their games last season.
Welker's suspension is a big blow to the Broncos' receiving game. Welker has 3,701 receiving yards over the last three seasons, the fifth-most in the NFL, and his 313 receptions in that span are tops in the league. Welker did miss three games last season in Weeks 15-17, and the Broncos went 2-1 without him.
Welker's four-game suspension will cost him nearly $2 million in salary, according to Spotrac:
Wes Welker’s 4 game suspension can cost him $705,882 in base salary, another $705,882 in roster bonus, & $470,588 in signing bonus— Spotrac (@spotrac) September 2, 2014