The Toronto Argonauts could be without five starters, including quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, for Sunday’s Canadian Football league (CFL) East Final after officials ruled the players violated COVID-19 protocol.
In a release on Friday afternoon, the league revealed the players attended Thursday night’s Toronto Raptors game – an action prohibited by the league.
The league’s protocols, which are much stricter than those facing the general public, do not allow active players to attend large sporting events.
“Bethel-Thompson was sent home this morning from the Argos facility,” the CFL said in its statement on Dec. 3.
“He must Quarantine at home for two days and two nights.”
Dexter McCoil, Charleston Hughes, Llevi Noel and Jeff Richards are other Argos that attended the basketball game on Thursday.
None can attend practices or meetings in-person for two days.
The players will be able to suit up for Sunday’s Eastern Final against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, if the tests return negative.
Allowing the Argos players in question to play Sunday with negative test results is a departure from the league’s COVID rules during the regular season.
Other players violating policy during 2021, including Tiger-Cats defensive end J’Gared Davis, were forced to quarantine for four days minimum.
The Argos, who earned a bye in the first round of the CFL playoffs after finishing in top spot in the East Division, own a 3-1 record against the Ticats in 2021.
Hamilton dumped their arch rivals in their first meeting of the Canadian Football League campaign on Labour Day, blasting Toronto 32-19 in a game in which Ticats QB Dane Evans completed 21 of 29 pass attempts for 248 yards and two touchdowns.
Evans was injured in the rematch four days later, a gut wrenching 17-16 loss at BMO Field in Toronto, and hasn’t started a game since.
With Jeremiah Masoli now firmly entrenched as the Tiger-Cats’ starting pivot, Evans will watch Sunday’s contest from the sideline.
The Argos topped the Ticats in their two other meetings this year, winning a 24-23 nail-biter on Thanksgiving Monday and following up with a decisive 32-12 win in the penultimate game of the regular season.
The winner of Sunday’s Eastern Final will square off against the defending champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers or Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 108th Grey Cup.
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