Today, Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger (‘sup Delly!) published a report adding more details to the two-year suspension LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton is currently serving due to an attempt at circumventing an NCAA-administered drug test.
Dellenger speaks with Fulton’s parents, as well as attorney Don Jackson, who is representing the sophomore player in his current petition to attempt to mitigate his suspension in time for the 2018 season.
While the story doesn’t necessarily add any truly new information, it does offer some more details as to the specifics of Fulton’s offense:
Documents detail the event on Feb. 2, 2017 at LSU’s Broussard Hall. The test administer, Jason Shoemake, noticed Fulton pouring the contents of a small bottle into the beaker the player was expected to fill with his own sample. When approached, Fulton poured the contents of the beaker into a urinal and began to fill the beaker with his own urine sample.
Per the Fultons, Kristian admits to smoking marijuana days before the test, and was not aware that the NCAA was searching for performance-enhancing drugs.
The rarity and severity of this NCAA policy makes this case unusual, but the results of Fulton’s own urine sample push it farther toward the extraordinary. After ditching efforts to use the outside urine, Fulton provided his own sample to the testing administrator. It returned from a UCLA laboratory clean of any performance-enhancing drugs.
While his urine returned clear of PEDs during that February 2017 test, his sample was found to have 5.4 nanograms per milliliter of Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana responsible for most of the drug’s psychological effects.
Fulton’s sample was 0.4 ng/ml above the NCAA’s THC threshold of 5 ng/ml at the time of that test. However, the NCAA’s THC threshold has already changed within the last year, increasing to 15 ng/ml, the same as LSU’s school threshold. Since his initial test 17 months ago, LSU has tested Fulton 30 times, Jackson said. In just one of those tests, in April of this year, did he register a THC count (7 ng/ml).
Had Fulton not attempted to beat the test, he would be eligible today.
Our official policy on this situation is known and hasn’t changed. Fulton deserves some form of punishment for what he did, but suspending any collegiate athlete for two years, short of an ongoing offense, is a ridiculous and draconian overreaction. Fulton’s first appeal was denied by the NCAA, but Jackson has propposed a “reconsideration,” in hopes of commuting Fulton’s suspension in some way:
Jackson is petitioning the NCAA to reopen the case, arguing on three fronts: (1) the absence of due process in the drug-testing appeals structure, (2) the lack of drug-testing education given to Fulton and (3) presenting new evidence that calls into question the credibility of the drug-testing procedure.
The latter might be his strongest point.
That new evidence is a toxicology analysis from The Forensic Panel, a forensic science practice based in New York. Sports Illustrated obtained a copy of the analysis. The Forensic Panel found that the NCAA’s testing procedure in the Fulton case lacked a “valid chain of custody,” legal jargon that refers to the transferring of physical evidence, in this case, a drug sample.
The piece has more detail regarding the gripes about the appeal structure (which are as ridiculous as you’d expect from the NCAA) and the potential of a lack of testing-procedure education as a mitigating factor. But that new evidence will surely be where the urine hits the porcelain for this case. Although even if there’s some clear violation of the testing procedure, a la the Ryan Braun case a few years ago, it’s anybody’s guess as to how the NCAA might rule. There’s no real attention or consistency to precedent in how the organization rules on these cases, and the Fultons are already operating outside of the appeal system.
The pending threat of litigation has been known to sway the NCAA in the past, but any case involving athlete control tends to be a hill the organization is well-prepared to die on.
As of today, LSU is preparing for the 2018 season as though Fulton will not be eligible. Although he has been steadily practicing with the team, and would be well in position to step in and start opposite of Greedy Williams if something did change. A transfer, unless it was down to junior college, would change nothing about Fulton’s situation — he’d still have a junior and senior season to play in 2019 and ‘20.
But the former five-star prospect would be a needed boost for 2018, there’s no question about that. Hopefully we’ll have some more information about that in the coming weeks.