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Dabo Swinney: Clemson may have mistakenly given players banned substances

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Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says there are any number of possible ways for three of his football players to have consumed banned substances that led to their suspension just before the College Football Playoff last December. Although Swinney still believes his players may be vindicated, he is not ruling out the possibility those banned substances may have come from within the Clemson program by mistake.

“Oh yeah, I mean, there’s a chance that it could come from anything,” Swinney said in a story published by The Post and Courier. “They’re going to test everything and look at everything. And that’s the problem. As you really look at this stuff, it could be a contaminant that came from anything, that was something that was cleared and not a problem, and all of a sudden, it becomes there was something.”

It is true that the regulations and banned substances can sometimes be a tad complicated, and there are times when one ingredient slips through the cracks when a player consumes a substance. It is, therefore, possible a substance provided through the university may have been one that was overlooked in the process, although that would lead to some more questions about those responsible for handing out the drugs to players on the university payroll if that is the case.

This latest comment from Swinney doesn’t stray too far from his previous comment on the situation. Last December, when it was announced defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, offensive lineman Zach Giella and tight end Braden Galloway had failed a drug test, Swinney came to the defense of his players and suggested they had no idea how they could have failed their respective drug tests.

“They have no clue how it got in their system. This could have come from hair products, cream, protein, a product you buy online and you think nothing is wrong with it. It could be something in a drink,” Swinney said at the time. “40 or so athletes over the last year or so have had to deal with same thing, and several were vindicated.”

The players failed a drug test for ostarine and additional samples were not clean enough to reinstate the players for the semifinal game against Notre Dame or the national championship game against Alabama. While Lawrence is off to the NFL, Giella and Galloway remain on the team while the appeals process continues.

Two Clemson players suspended over failed drug tests still on team as appeals process continues

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One of the biggest storylines heading into the 2018 College Football Playoff continues to unfold as it winds its way through The Association’s process.

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 Lawrencethe suspension was upheld and the trio missed the semifinal win over Notre Dame as well as the championship game win over Alabama.

At the time it was confirmed that they would miss the title game, it was acknowledged by athletic director Dan Radakovich that “Clemson filed notices of appeal with the NCAA” and “will continue to work with the three impacted student-athletes and their legal representatives over the coming weeks to prepare the appeals.” As Lawrence is off to the NFL, the appeal, when it comes to the 2019 college football season, will focus on Galloway and Giella.

In offering an update on the situation, the Charleston Post & Courier is reporting that Galloway and Giella remain as a part of the Tigers football program as they await word from the NCAA on their appeals.  Both players have been suspended for one full year because of the failed drug test, which means they would miss at least the entire 2019 regular season if their appeals are denied.

According to the Post & Courier, NCAA rules would prohibit Giella from playing in a bowl game if the suspension is upheld because he will be in his final year of eligibility in 2019 and has already played three seasons.  Galloway, however, would be permitted to play in a bowl/playoff game.  There’s more from the newspaper on Galloway’s eligibility situation:

If Galloway were to play in postseason games for the Tigers in 2019, under the new redshirt rule he would not burn an additional year of eligibility because he would have played in less than four games. However, he still loses a year for the suspension.

Under that scenario, Galloway could still have two years left to play beginning in 2020.

Galloway, a true freshman, caught five passes for 52 yards and a touchdown in 2018, while Giella, a redshirt junior, has played in 19 games during his time with the Tigers, including eight this past season.

Both players will be permitted to participate in spring practice the month after next even if the appeals process continues.