The defending national champion Clemson Tigers will be without two returning players for the 2019 season after the NCAA denied their appeals over penalties for positive drug tests last season.
Tight end Braden Galloway, who will be a sophomore next season, and offensive lineman Zach Giella, who is entering his senior year, both tested positive for trace amounts of ostarine before the College Football Playoff semifinal against Notre Dame last year.
Clemson Stands Behind Players
Neither Galloway nor Giella started for the Tigers last year. Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence also tested positive for ostarine, but has already left Clemson after being drafted by the New York Giants in the first round of the NFL Draft.
“We are disappointed in the results of the appeal and continue to believe our student-athletes did not knowingly ingest any banned substances,” Clemson said in a statement. “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.”
The Clemson statement noted that other than the three trace positives, all tests of Clemson athletes have come back negative since 2014. The school also says that tests of Galloway and Giella before and after the positive result came back negative as well.
While ostarine is recognized as a performance-enhancing substance that is used to build muscle, it is not implausible that the substance could be ingested accidentally. Ostarine has been known to show up as a contaminant in products that are otherwise legal.
Robert Ariail, an attorney representing the two players has said that they have passed polygraph tests related to the positive results. Ariail also noted that the World Anti-Doping Agency has recommended that when athletes test positive only for trace amounts of ostarine, that no positive findings be made.
Tigers Among 2019 Championship Favorites
Clemson went on to win last year’s national championship in emphatic style, beating Notre Dame 30-3 in the semifinals before trouncing Alabama 44-16 in the final to claim its second national title in three years.
It is unlikely that Clemson’s 2019 season will be derailed by the loss of the two reserves. Giella played in 11 games last year, but only for a total of 114 snaps. Meanwhile, Galloway caught five passes for 52 yards and one touchdown in his freshman campaign.
Despite being the defending champions, Clemson isn’t entering the 2019 college football season as the favorite to win a national title. That honor goes to the Alabama Crimson Tide, who are listed as a +175 pick to win the CFP Championship by FanDuel Sportsbok. Clemson (+220) is a very close second choice, ahead of other contenders like Georgia (+800), Ohio State (+1200), and Oklahoma (+1600).