CLEMSON— The appeal has been filed, and now the Clemson Tigers must wait to learn the fate of Zach Giella and Braden Galloway, as the two members of the 2019 Clemson Tiger football team were suspended, along with former Tiger Dexter Lawrence, prior to the Cotton Bowl after a "sliver" of ostarine appeared in their sample.
However the appeal turns out, according to athletic director Dan Radakovich, their need to be a discussion about the testing and acceptable limits for samples.
"I think there’s some discussions that should be had in that area (of the limits for acceptable amounts of a substance),” Radakovich said. “They’ve changed thresholds on other street drugs before. Never really changed thresholds as it relates to what are known as PEDs. So is it time to do that? Have machines become so sophisticated that five years ago the testing devices did not have the ability to detect these trace amounts, but they’re so good now that they have the ability to detect them? Does that make any type of enhancement to someone’s activity? That’s way beyond where I am other than just that process piece of what I just told you.”
Much has been made over the last month with regards to the Clemson football team and their drug testing procedures.
According to a story published by The Post and Courier, the Tigers had “Fewer than 20 Clemson players were tested in a random and routine NCAA drug screening of championship event participants.”
This fact, has drawn the ire of many across the nation, who are wondering why the Tigers had so few members of their 119 man roster tested after, “more than 15-percent of those Tigers screened tested positive for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).”
However, the math is slightly misleading.
If the Tigers had more than 15-percent of their team test positive, the implication is that had the entire team been tested that more that 18 players on the Tigers’ national championship team would have tested positive—which is a fact that can neither be proven or disproven.
But the fact that the Tigers did not test the entire team is completely a result of the NCAA’s testing procedure in which they send a school participating in a championship or postseason event a list of players to be tested.
“ All student-athletes are subject to NCAA testing at NCAA championships or in conjunction with postseason bowl games,” according to the NCAA Drug-Testing Protocol.
“ Student-athletes may be tested before, during or after NCAA championship events and postseason bowl games. At NCAA team championships and postseason bowl games, student-athletes may be selected on the basis of position, competitive ranking, athletics financial-aid status, playing time, random selection, or other NCAA-approved selection method.
“For team championship and postseason bowl-game testing, student-athletes may be selected from the official travel party roster, official gate/credential list, championship participation sheets or other approved form.”
In fact, the Clemson Athletic Department drug-tests all athletes in all sports prior to the start of the season, including cheerleaders, mascots, video staff and managers.
“All teams are screened for drug use as a group prior to the season, on a random basis throughout the year and at the request of the head coach and/or other Athletic Department officials,” The university website states. “In addition, the NCAA conducts random tests and may test at championship events. Cheerleaders, mascots, student athletics trainers, student managers and student video staff may be included in the testing program.”
The three players who were suspended, Dexter Lawrence, Braden Galloway and Zach Giella, all tested positive for a substance known as ostarine.
Ostarine is, “Ostarine is the trademarked name for a Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator (SARM) that is not approved for human use or consumption in the U.S., or in any other country. In recent years, WADA has reported an increasing number of positive tests involving SARMs, and athletes who use these substances most likely obtain them through black market channels,” according to the US Anti-Doping Agency.
While the USADA still holds that the most likely way to obtain ostarine is through “black market” channels, their website gives a different account—as there are currently 60 products on their supplement list, which can be purchased at various retailers across the country, which contain the substance.
By comparison, last July there was only 36 products on the list.
“The unfortunate reality is that some dietary supplement manufacturers illegally put ostarine and other SARMs in their products, and some omit ostarine from the label entirely or use misleading names to confuse consumers’, writes the USADA. ‘You should look out for ostarine’s many synonyms, including MK-2866, enobasarm, (2S)-3-(4-cyanophenoxy)-N-[4-cyano-3-(trifluoromethyl)phenyl]-2-hydroxy-2-methylpropanamide, and GTx-024 on supplement labels.”
Leaving the door open for what head coach Dabo Swinney said to be proved true, that the three players had not idea where the drugs came from.
"I think it’s important, very important, that the message is accurate and that the truth is told, because these are three great young men, three great young men, that I believe in, and that I know, without a doubt, have not intentionally done anything to jeopardize their opportunity or this team," Swinney said. "I don’t know how, if [ostarine] even is in their system, how it got there. But I do know that these three young men have not intentionally done anything. And there’s, again, plenty of precedent where the same thing has happened across the country with other people.