2 Clemson players suspended for season; NCAA rejects appeal
By PETE IACOBELLI
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Clemson tight end Braden Galloway and offensive lineman Zach Giella will miss next season after an NCAA panel rejected the school's appeal of their drug suspension.
Clemson athletic spokesman Jeff Kallin said Friday that the school learned of the NCAA decision on Wednesday. The school issued a statement that it is disappointed in the ruling and continues "to believe our student-athletes did not knowingly ingest any banned substances."
However, Kallin said the school doesn't plan further action.
The positive drug tests for Galloway, Giella and ex-Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence were announced in December while the Tigers were preparing to play Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. They were suspended and missed the College Football Playoff games, including the national championship game when the Tigers beat Alabama 44-16.
All three players had denied knowingly taking the banned substance ostarine. Robert Ariail, the lawyer for Galloway and Giella, said in a statement Friday the NCAA's decision was an "unfair denial of our appeal."
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney wouldn't elaborate on the NCAA decision, telling The Associated Press in a text message that "All been said."
Lawrence was a junior who left early for the NFL draft and was taken 17th overall by the New York Giants. He also would've faced a yearlong ban had he remained with the Tigers.
The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports upheld the suspensions.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency says ostarine is a substance that "might be effective at treating different health conditions without resulting in the negative side effects of steroids."
Ariail said that Galloway and Giella took and passed polygraph examinations and had negative drug tests in April and October 2018 and in January and February.
Lawrence said during Clemson's pro day in March that he truthfully answered questions about the drug test when asked by NFL teams.
Lawrence was a highly regarded NFL prospect and part of Clemson's "Power Rangers' defensive front that was among the best in college football last season. It was likely he would've gone pro even before the positive drug test.
Galloway, a sophomore, was expected to compete for a starting tight end job this fall. He had five catches for 52 yards. Giella, a senior, is a reserve lineman.
Clemson said Friday that the athletic department had administered 329 tests for performance-enhancing drugs since 2014 and all came back negative except for the three last December. The department said all supplements are reviewed with its athletics nutrition and sports medicine staff and Clemson's compliance office to ensure no banned substances are used.
Ariail said the players' appeal included information from experts that the trace amounts of ostarine found indicated contamination from "legitimate products."
"In this case, it is our strong belief that no violation occurred," he said.
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Updated May 24, 2019