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Drug test appeal denied. Now 2 Clemson players will miss all of 2019 season

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Clemson football star faces a suspension for the Cotton Bowl

Five months after Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney announced that three Clemson football players had tested positive for ostarine and were being suspended for the College Football Playoff, there is finally a resolution to the matter.

Clemson sophomore tight end Braden Galloway and senior offensive lineman Zach Giella have had their appeal denied and will miss the upcoming season, it was announced Friday.

Both players tested positive for trace amounts of the banned substance ostarine prior to the playoffs, as did defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, who was selected by the New York Giants in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

It is possible that Galloway and Giella could return for the postseason in 2019, as the punishment is in effect for a year from the date of the test, according to the NCAA. However, a Clemson official said the school is still awaiting clarity on whether or not the two will be eligible at the end of December of 2019.

“We are disappointed in the results of the appeal and continue to believe our student-athletes did not knowingly ingest any banned substances. The Athletic Department takes seriously its role in the education, testing and enforcement of supplement and performance-enhancing substances,” Clemson’s athletics department said in a statement. “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.”

When he first announced the suspensions Dec. 24, Swinney said the players did not knowingly take a banned substance.

Attorney Robert M. Ariail, who represented Galloway and Giella, said in a statement that the two did nothing wrong.

“The student-athletes repeatedly have stated that they have no knowledge of how Ostarine entered their bodies. Their assertions were confirmed by a polygraph examination taken by each,” the statement said. “Both student-athletes had negative test results for prohibited substances in multiple urine drug screens in April and October of 2018, just before their positive December 2018 test, and again in both January and February of 2019, just after the December positive test.”

Clemson filed an appeal with the NCAA at the end of April with the hope that the suspensions would be overturned.

As part of the appeal, Galloway and Giella presented statements from “scientific experts which confirmed that the very low levels detected in December 2018 were indicative of contamination of legitimate products.”

Tigers Athletics Director Dan Radakovich told The State in December that Clemson was doing everything it could, including “going through and checking our supplements, going to the manufacturer and looking at all of that” to find out how the players got ostarine into their systems.

The statement from Ariail said Clemson was unable to find the source of the ostarine.

“The WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) report also noted that in many cases, the identification of the contaminated product is not possible. The students’ scientific expert stated that Ostarine can remain in one’s system for an indeterminate amount of time, making it even more difficult to pinpoint the source of contamination,” the statement said. “In the December 2018 instance, the student-athletes were unable to identify the source of contamination. As part of the appeal process, an independent lab tested 27 supplements and products, and none came back as contaminated.”

The loss of Galloway is a big blow for the Tigers in 2019 as he was slated to be the starting tight end for Clemson, replacing Milan Richard.

Galloway caught five passes for 52 yards and a touchdown while playing in 12 of the 13 games he was eligible for last season. He led all tight ends with four catches for 33 yards and a touchdown in the spring game in April. With Galloway out, junior tight end J.C. Chalk is expected to move into a starting role.

Galloway will lose a year of eligibility this season and will be a junior in 2020.

Giella was slated to be a backup offensive lineman for Clemson in 2019 after playing in 11 games last season. The senior’s career will be over if he is not eligible to return for the postseason.

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