Will Grier and the Accidental Ingestion of Performance Enhancing Drugs | Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law

This past week, University of Florida quarterback Will Grier was suspended for failing a routine drug test.   Per NCAA regulations, Grier was suspended for 365 days.  In addition, student-athletes who fail PED tests also lose one full year of eligibility.  Essentially, this means that Grier gets five years to play three.  Due to this one-year loss of eligibility, Grier, the previous redshirt freshman, will be a junior when he returns in 2016.  Therefore, due to this suspension, Grier’s college career was shortened to 24 regular season games from a possible 48.

As Grier was suspended for 365 days, barring a successful appeal, he cannot resume play until the seventh game of the 2016 season.  Grier claimed the alleged PED usage was an accident, stating that he took an over-the-counter supplement without checking with the medical staff prior to taking it.  However, NCAA bylaws specify that not knowing is not an excuse.  While Grier plans to appeal, the fact that NCAA bylaws specifically contemplated this scenario—“accidental” PED ingestion—it seems unlikely that Grier’s defense will pass muster.   It seems as if the only way Grier could win on appeal is if the supplement was for an extreme medical condition, a fact that Grier would have surely stated by now.   In addition, past NCAA action points to Grier losing his case, as the NCAA has been incredibly strict on banned substances in the past.  For example, Georgia Bulldog Kolton Houston was finally cleared to play in July of 2013 after being suspended since January of 2010.  Houston underwent shoulder surgery in high school and was prescribed a steroid during his recovery.  After a failed drug test during his first semester at Georgia, the NCAA ruled him ineligible, as the steroid qualified as a banned substance under NCAA rules.  Unfortunately for Houston, the steroid remained in his body through the 2012 season, even though he proved that he had not taken the substance again since enrolling at Georgia.  This was enough, in the view of the NCAA, for Houston to remain ineligible.  The NCAA refused to reinstate Houston until his body was completely clear of the steroid.  This strict view regarding banned substances seems to indicate that Will Grier will lose his appeal and will not be in the Florida Gator’s starting lineup until the middle of next season.

Victoria Roessler

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