Appeal Denied: Attorney releases statement on NCAA's Clemson ostarine decision
|Friday, May 24, 2019, 9:19 AM- -|
One Clemson football player will miss the 2019 football season and another one's career is likely over after being suspended by the NCAA, according to an attorney for the players’ families.
In December, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, tight end Braden Galloway and offensive lineman Zach Giella tested positive on an NCAA-administered drug screening for trace amounts of ostarine, a banned anabolic substance typically utilized to generate lean muscle. The players were suspended from the Cotton Bowl and the CFP National Championship Game.
An appeal was made on behalf on the players to the NCAA and was spearheaded by the attorney. That appeal was heard recently and denied by the sports’ governing body.
Clemson announced plans to appeal the test results on Dec. 27, according to Athletic Director Dan Radakovich. The original appeal was supposed to be in by March, but the school asked for extra time.
According to NCAA policy, athletes can dispute test results by proving there was an error in the testing process, that they received a product from another person but “could not have known or reasonably suspected” that it contained the banned substance, or that a school administrator reviewed and approved a product containing a banned ingredient.
The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports conducted the appeal hearing via teleconference. Players were provided time to deliver an opening argument directly to the committee. The committee then conducted a question-and-answer period before deliberations.
Also, according to According to Section 8.0 of the NCAA Drug-Testing Program Protocol, the NCAA will not consider “the type or amount of banned substance detected through the drug test, evidence of the student-athlete’s good character, the degree of remorse demonstrated by the student-athlete, family hardship or history of family dysfunction, and the degree to which the banned substance may or may not affect athletic performance” as mitigating factors.
According to NCAA Division I bylaws, an athlete who tests positive for “use of a substance in a banned drug class other than illicit drugs” must forfeit an entire season of eligibility. Giella had one year of eligibility remaining so his career is likely finished. Galloway won’t play the 2019 season but could return to competition in 2020.
A statement by the attorney shows the substance appeared in just one of several drug tests during that span, and are indicative of being acquired from a legitimate product.
"The student-athletes repeatedly have stated that they have no knowledge of how Ostarine entered their bodies. Their assertions were confirmed by a polygraph examination taken by each," it says. "Both student-athletes had negative test results for prohibited substances in multiple urine drug screens in April and October of 2018, just before their positive December 2018 test, and again in both January and February of 2019, just after the December positive test.
"Ostarine is a known contaminant of legitimate products. As part of the appeal, the student-athletes presented statements from scientific experts which confirmed that the very low levels detected in December 2018 were indicative of contamination of legitimate products. A medical review committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recently recommended that in cases such as this, no positive findings be made. Similarly, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has, in recent months, lifted the previously imposed suspensions against five athletes who tested positive for trace levels of Ostarine."
The release then chastises the NCAA for outdated policies.
"We presented to the Committee convincing evidence that the student-athletes had not voluntarily or intentionally ingested Ostarine," it says. "We also presented evidence that the two primary regulatory agencies for drug testing of athletes, WADA and the USADA, have concluded that Ostarine is a wide-spread contaminant which is placed in other consumer products without identifying it on the label. This can produce a very low concentration of Ostarine upon testing. Thus contamination, found in “very low” or “trace” amount levels makes it impossible to determine whether the Ostarine is the result of intentional use or ingested through the consumption of a legitimate product contaminated with Ostarine. The issue has forced both agencies to take action that would remove “very low” or “trace” readings, like in this case, from consideration for sanctions.
The NCAA committee, when presented with this evidence, failed to recognize the existence of the major change described above. Thus, it proceeded to use the current practice and policies in place and denied the appeals. Change in this area for the NCAA is inevitable and should have been recognized and applied in this case to reach a fair conclusion. Its failure to do so resulted in an unfair denial of our appeal."