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David Moore receives suspension: Outlining NCAA banned substances, appeals process, Will Grier's similar situation


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Central Michigan quarterback David Moore looks at the field at Waldo Stadium after losing to arch-rival Western Michigan Sept. 28 in Kalamazoo.

For the second time in Jim McElwain's coaching career, a quarterback in his system has tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

The first was Will Grier at Florida in 2015. Now, it's junior quarterback David Moore at Central Michigan in 2019.

Moore was tagged with an immediate suspension for a full-year of eligibility after testing positive for an NCAA banned substance.

Like in Grier's case, the university will appeal the NCAA's suspension of Moore.

Grier's appeal was denied.

Central Michigan knew of Moore's positive test on Oct. 7, one day before it was announced. The university cited the use of an over-the-counter nutritional supplement as the likely cause. 

Banned substances

The NCAA bans nine drug classes – stimulants, anabolic agents, alcohol and beta blockers, diuretics and masking agents, narcotics, cannabinoids, peptide hormones and growth factors, hormone and metabolic modulators and beta-2 agonists.

Along with those banned drug classes, the NCAA notes that any substance related to the classes and without approval by any government regulatory health authority for human therapeutic use is also banned.

"The institution and the student-athlete shall be held accountable for all drugs within the banned-drug class regardless of whether they have been specifically identified," according to the NCAA.

Listed in bright red, the NCAA also issues a warning regarding nutritional and dietary supplements. This applies to Moore's case since CMU noted an over-the-counter supplement as the most likely reason for the positive test.

The warning (in red) reads as follows: "Before consuming any nutritional/dietary supplement product, review the product and its label with your athletics department staff!"

The NCAA outlines the fact that supplements are "not well regulated" and a handful of them are "contaminated with banned substances not listed on the label" that could lead to a positive test.

In terms of over-the-counter supplements, the NCAA encourages staff members within an athletic department to provide guidance. The NCAA also says that these supplements should be "taken at your own risk."

"Athletics department staff should provide guidance to student-athletes about supplement use, including a directive to have any product checked by qualified staff members before consuming," according to the NCAA.

However, the NCAA makes note that the student-athlete is ultimately responsible "to check with the appropriate or designated athletics staff before using any substance."

There is not a complete list of banned substances, but the NCAA gives some examples of drugs in each of the nine classes that are not allowed.

Appeals process

The appeals process for drug testing in the NCAA usually takes a lengthy period of time, meaning Moore's case may not be resolved until after the 2019 season. 

If that's the case, the junior quarterback will miss the remainder of the 2019 campaign. He would not be able to play until Oct. 7, 2020.

For all cases regarding an NCAA student-athlete and testing positive for a banned substance, the university is required to appeal on behalf of an athlete if requested to do this. However, if there is not a request, an appeal is not required of the institution.

Here are all the steps to the appeals process for drug testing, according to the NCAA:

1. At least three members of the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports appeals panel hear appeals. In the event that a member of the committee is employed by a member institution belonging to the same athletics conference of the appealing institution, that committee member will not hear the appeal.

2. Appeals are conducted by telephone conference arranged by Drug Free Sport International for the NCAA.  NCAA staff, NCAA drug-testing consultants and NCAA legal counsel are normally present during the telephone conference, but do not participate in committee deliberations or voting.

3. The committee prefers not to know the identity of the institution requesting the appeal or the identities of any of the institutional representatives, the student-athlete or his/her representatives. Accordingly, during the telephone conference, parties should refer to themselves only by title and should not mention the institution's name.

4. The institution and the student-athlete may include any party on the telephone conference they wish after reporting their names and telephone numbers to Drug Free Sport International. The institution is required to include the student-athlete and the director of athletics. The director of athletics may designate a senior staff member to participate in his/her absence.

5. The NCAA does not restrict the grounds for an appeal, but an institution bringing an appeal must comply with the requirements set forth in Section 8.0 of the NCAA Drug Testing Program Protocol. 

Appeal considerations include three challenges: procedural challenge, knowledge challenge and reduction of penalty based on mitigating factors.

The procedural challenge occurs when an institution or student-athlete claims there was a problem with the collection or testing procedures that could have affected the outcome of the test.

The knowledge challenge occurs when a student-athlete takes responsibility for the substance consumed. However, the university or athlete would attempt to prove that they were not aware the banned substance had been administered (placed into the athlete's system via food or drink) by another person that is later found to have a banned ingredient. But, in this case, NCAA says that the athlete "must show that he or she both did not know and could not reasonably have known or suspected (even with the exercise of utmost caution) that he or she had been administered" a banned substance by a third party.

There is another aspect to the knowledge challenge that occurs when a student-athlete can demonstrate that he or she asked "specific and reasonable questions" about a substance, medication or product. The NCAA says if the appropriate "athletics administrator erroneously assured the inquiring student-athlete that the substance does not list a banned ingredient (but it did)," then the appeal commit might determine there was no violation against the student-athlete. However, this may result in an institutional violation.

The appeal for reduction of penalty based on mitigating factors does not consider a number of things, listed by the NCAA: "The type or amount of banned substance detected through the drug test; evidence of the student-athlete’s good character; the degree of remorse demonstrated by the student-athlete; family hardship or history of family dysfunction; and the degree to which the banned substance may or may not affect athletic performance."

However, though the reduction of penalty appeal, the drug-test committee could reduce the sanction to "immediate suspension from competition in all sports and withholding from competition for the equivalent of the next 50% of each sport's regular season schedule." For this to occur, there needs to be proof that the university's drug education program was inadequate and that was the cause for the judgment of the athlete to take a specific banned product. The only other way to win an appeal for a reduction of penalty is if the athlete can discern he or she was using a banned substance in a circumstance that was beyond their control.

6. Every attempt will be made to disseminate to the drug-test appeal committee any written materials submitted by the institution and received by Drug Free Sport International regarding the appeal.

7. The request for an appeal shall be submitted by the institution within two business days of the confirmation of the positive drug test. Required documentation must be submitted by the institution within 45 days of the confirmation of the positive drug test. At least five business days before the scheduled appeal, the institution is required to submit to Drug Free Sport International a written summary describing the institution’s drug-education program and the grounds for the appeal.

Central Michigan complied with this requirement, as the university requested an appeal one business day after Moore tested positive.

8. The chair of the drug-test appeal committee or designee will open the telephone conference appeal by inviting the institution and its representatives and/or the student-athlete and his/her representatives to provide orally any information they wish to have before the committee. The committee prefers that the student-athlete present his/her information immediately after any introductory statements made by the director of athletics. Opportunity will be given to all parties to have questions asked and answered.

9. Following the presentation by the institution and the question and answer period, the chair will ask the institution and any drug-testing consultants to leave the telephone conference and at that time the committee will deliberate and render a decision. The NCAA staff will contact the director of athletics to report the committee's decision as soon as possible. It is the institution's responsibility to inform the student-athlete.

10. In the event of an analytical positive test, when the appeal is granted, the student-athlete must test negative on an NCAA-administered drug test prior to returning to competition.  In the event that the committee denies the appeal and imposes a sanction, the provisions of NCAA Bylaw 18.4.1.5.1 will apply.

Grier's case

On Oct. 12, 2015, Grier was suspended one year for violating the NCAA's banned substance policy. 

At a press conference that featured Grier and McElwain, the Florida coach (in his first year at the time) said it could've been avoided if his quarterback spoke with the team's medical staff before taking the over-the-counter substance.

“You and I can both go get it,” McElwain said to reporters. “Anyone in this room can. Anybody in this country can. The mistake is, and the lesson for whoever out there, make sure — just like we educate our guys now — you check with your medical staff before you put anything in your body.”

McElwain did not explain what Grier put into his body, but it was later made known the substance was Ligandrol – a treatment for muscle wasting and osteoporosis. He obtained it from a store called Total Nutrition in Gainesville.

“Doesn’t matter," McElwain said of the substance, which he wouldn't explain at the time. "Cough medicine. You have to know what you’re putting in your body. Will admitted he didn’t do it. I think that speaks for him. He’s not putting it on anybody else. He’s a stand-up guy. That’s how he played the game and plays the game. He’ll be back.”

Well, Grier was never "back" for the Gators. Two months after he was suspended, the quarterback announced his decision to transfer.

In a story published by Bleacher Report, Grier opened up on his suspension and the reason he left Florida for West Virginia. He cited McElwain as the cause for his departure.

Here's an excerpt of what Grier wrote in his story for Bleacher Report, titled, "A Year in PED Purgatory."

I read in stories that I left the team, that it was my decision. It wasn’t. Coach McElwain was telling the media that I was eligible to practice with the team, while telling me I didn’t need to be around the team at this time.

After I came back, my dad and I had a meeting with Coach McElwain in November to discuss the future. The meeting was scheduled for 5 p.m., and two hours later, Coach McElwain shows up. He was out recruiting (quarterback) Feleipe Franks.

I kept asking him what I could do to make it work there. He finally ended up saying, “Maybe a fresh start isn’t the worst thing.” He said that, and I said, “So I guess that’s the move.”

Moore was not at practice Oct. 8, the day his suspension was announced. NCAA rules state he is allowed to practice, but he cannot play.

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