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Ravens' Rice suspended by league for two games

(Reuters) - Baltimore Ravens' Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice was suspended by the National Football League on Thursday without pay for the first two games of the 2014 regular season for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

Rice has also been fined an additional game check for "conduct detrimental to the NFL" for his arrest in February following a fight he had with his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer.

An anti-bullying advocate and three-time Pro Bowl pick, Rice was accepted into a pre-trial intervention program in May, thus avoiding jail time.

"The league is an entity that depends on integrity and in the confidence of the public and we simply cannot tolerate conduct that endangers others or reflects negatively on our game," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

"This is particularly true with respect to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women. I believe that you are sincere in your desire to learn from this matter and move forward toward a healthy relationship and successful career."

Rice's suspension will begin on Aug. 30 and he will be eligible for reinstatement on Sept. 12 following the Ravens' game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is permitted to participate in all aspects of training camp and preseason games.

"It is disappointing that I will not be with my team mates for the first two games of the season, but that's my fault," Rice, 27, said in a statement released by the Ravens.

"As I said earlier, I failed in many ways. But, Janay and I have learned from this.

"The counseling has helped tremendously.

"I am a role model and I take that responsibility seriously. My actions going forward will show that."

Police arrested Rice and Palmer on Feb. 15 at an Atlantic City casino in New Jersey.

Surveillance recordings showed them hitting each other in the casino elevator, and Rice knocking Palmer unconscious, police said. The couple was married the day after a New Jersey grand jury indicted Rice in March.

Rice signed a five-year, $35 million contract with the Ravens in 2012 and helped Baltimore to a Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers at the end of that season.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Keating)

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