At some point in the next couple of weeks, LSU could find out, once and for all, whether one of the most talented members of its defensive secondary will be available for the upcoming season.
In mid-March, it was confirmed that Kristian Fulton is in the midst of serving a two-year suspension levied by the NCAA, which stemmed from his alleged tampering with a drug-test sample in the early months of 2017. The suspension has already cost the cornerback the entire 2017 season, and could also sideline him for all of 2018 as well.
Fulton’s family had previously retained outside counsel, who then asked the NCAA for reconsideration of the two-year suspension. Tuesday, that counsel, Alabama-based lawyer Don Jackson, confirmed to the New Orleans Times-Picayune that “a ‘request for reconsideration based on new evidence’ was officially filed with the NCAA a few weeks ago and an answer could come in 2-3 weeks, possibly sooner.”
It’s alleged by the NCAA that a testing administrator witnessed Fulton pouring some type of substance into his urine sample during a drug test. It appears Fulton’s lawyer isn’t challenging that allegation; rather, he’s questioning the rule — 3.4 of The Association’s Drug-Testing protocol, to be specific — that was applied by the NCAA.
From the Times-Picayune‘s report:
The rule states, “A student-athlete who is involved in a case of clearly observed tampering with an NCAA drug-test sample, as documented per NCAA drug-testing protocol by a drug-testing crew member, shall be charged with the loss of a minimum of two seasons of competition in all sports and shall remain ineligible for all regular-season and postseason competition during the time period ending two calendar years (730 days) from the date of the tampering.”
Jackson feels that Fulton violated rule 3.3 which says, “a student-athlete will be in breach of protocol and treated as if there was a positive test for a banned substance other than a street/illicit drug as denied in Bylaw 31.2.3 if the student-athlete:
* refuses to sign the notification form or custody and control form;
* fails to arrive at the collection station without justification as determined by Drug-Free Sport;
* fails to provide a urine specimen according to protocol;
* leaves the collection station without authorization from the certified collector before providing a specimen according to protocol; or
* attempts to alter the integrity of the collection process.”
Under rule 3.3, Fulton would not have been suspended if he tested positive for a street drug and would have only been suspended for a year if he would have tested positive for any performance-enhancing drugs, which means he’d be eligible now if he tested positive for either substance.
If the reconsideration is successful and the last few months of the two-year ban are dropped, Jackson could resume on-field activities with the Tigers at some point during summer camp, perhaps even from the start of camp if it’s the earlier portion of the 2-3 week timeline laid out by the attorney.
Fulton, a five-star 2016 signee, played in three games as a true freshman. If the reconsideration is denied, it would leave Fulton with one season of collegiate eligibility he could use in 2019. He could also make himself available for the 2019 NFL draft, regardless of the outcome.