Swinney, Radakovich explain there's a chance All-American defensive tackle could play
ARLINGTON, Texas — Dexter Lawrence’s availability for the 83rd Cotton Bowl is up in the air.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney told the media prior to the Tigers’ practice that the All-American defensive tackle could miss the Cotton Bowl against No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Lawrence, along with freshman tight end Braden Galloway and reserve offensive tackle Zach Giella failed a mandatory drug test by the NCAA. The three players tested positive for a steroid named Ostarine, which can be found in every day hair products or other everyday items.
“We have to make sure everybody understands. It is important that the message is accurate, and the message is told. They are three great young men who I know have not done intentionally anything,” Swinney said.
Clemson received the results of the test three days ago where they notified all three players.
In August of 2017, the USADA issued a warning to athletes that ostarine, a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM), is not approved for human consumption but has been the cause of numerous positive doping tests involving sports supplements.
“It is one of the reasons why Dabo made the statement that he did,” Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said. “This is not a street drug. It can come from a number of different sources, hair products, protein, energy drinks, a lot of different things might have trace amounts of this that were indicated.”
According to the site called Natural Products Insider.com, the warning of ostarine is on the label and sometimes it is not. In its July 25, 2017 advisory, USADA reported a recent uptick in supplement contamination and supplement-related incidences involving ostarine.
“The letter from the NCAA said they had a slither of ostarine. I have never heard of it, but we may all in this room have a trace of something in us. It comes from anything and they thought it was a joke when I called them in. It comes from hair products, crème, protein, something online, it could be anything.”
Swinney said there was just a trace of ostarine in the three players and that they have asked for a second test. The results of the second test are expected to be back by either Wednesday or Thursday.
The USADA said it has logged 13 doping cases involving the use or possession of ostarine dating back to 2014.
“There have been 40-plus (cases) and some of them have been vindicated,” Swinney said. “We have to figure out if it’s even in the system. They have legal representation, they have a B sample and we won’t know until Wednesday or Thursday.”
The three players have made the trip to Dallas and are allowed to practice with the team while they wait for the results of the B test. However, the players were dressed Monday, but they did not fully participate in practice.
Clemson Athletic Communications Director for Football, Ross Taylor said it is “just a precaution” as they make sure they try to get the other players ready to play in case the B sample comes back positive. They are preparing as if the three players will not be available.
“Whenever you take a drug test, you give two samples, there is an A sample and a B sample,” Radakovich said. “If the A sample comes back positive, then the B sample, if you desire, is re-tested. So that is where we are right now.”
The test are urine tests. If the B sample comes back positive for traces of ostarine then the Tigers are in the same spot they are in right now.
Swinney and Radakovich said Clemson can appeal the drug test, but it could take weeks to get the results of the appeal. The appeal would not be done prior to the Cotton Bowl so all three players will have to sit out the Cotton Bowl in that case.
If the Tigers were to beat Notre Dame and advances to the National Championship Game on January 7, there is no guarantee the appeal will be done in time.
“The appeals are lengthy, and they are cumbersome, but they are available,” Radakovich said.
Lawrence has 37 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks this year. He also has three deflected passes and one blocked kick. Galloway caught five passes for 52 yards and one touchdown. He has played in 12 games.
Giella has played in eight games this season.