The upcoming season hasn’t even kicked off yet, but it’s already over for a pair of Clemson football players thanks to an off-field imbroglio.
Along with All-American Dexter Lawrence, tight end Braden Galloway and offensive lineman Zach Giella (pictured, No. 77) were suspended ahead of the College Football Playoff after testing positive in mid-December for Ostarine, a banned substance used to help increase muscle mass and strength. A second sample was tested as well and, much to the chagrin of a mind-boggled Lawrence, the suspension was upheld and the trio missed the semifinal win over Notre Dame as well as the championship game win over Alabama.
As the appeals process continued to drag on over the next few months, a resolution has now been reached, albeit not in a positive way for the players or the football program, as Clemson announced Friday morning that the NCAA has denied its appeal. The ruling means that both Galloway and Giella will miss the entire 2019 regular season. The pair will, though, be eligible for the 2019-20 postseason, including the College Football Playoffs.
In a statement, the university vigorously defended what it described as “a rigorous education and testing program.”
We are disappointed in the results of the appeal and continue to believe our student-athletes did not knowingly ingest any banned substances. The Athletic Department takes seriously its role in the education, testing and enforcement of supplement and performance-enhancing substances. We will continue to adhere to best practices with respect to supplement use by student-athletes and support the position of the NCAA in its testing for PEDs.
Student-athletes at Clemson have taken 329 tests for PEDs since 2014, and all results have been negative except for the trace amounts found during the December 2018 tests. The two current student-athletes were tested prior to the December test, including in April and October of 2018 and again in January and February of 2019, and results came back negative for PEDs. Clemson maintains a rigorous education and testing program, and all supplements are reviewed with Clemson Athletics Nutrition and Sports Medicine as well as the Clemson Compliance Office prior to approval for usage to ensure that no banned substances are included in the products.
In compliance with the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act, Clemson is not authorized to discuss further details of the appeal. Any further questions regarding the appeal should be directed to the student-athletes’ representation.
The law firm representing both players issued its own statement as well, one that takes aim at the NCAA’s current testing policies.
Galloway, a true sophomore, caught five passes for 52 yards and a touchdown in 2018, while Giella, a fifth-year senior, has played in 19 games during his time with the Tigers, including eight this past season.
Lawrence was selected with the 17th pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the New York Giants.