I usually stick to discussing Gamecock-related matters here, but the Sliver of Ostarine, besides being a great title for a Harry Potter book, is too good a subject to let pass without comment. Sometime in the past few weeks the NCAA tested 18-19 Clemson players (per AD Dan Radakovich) and 3 players, Zach Giella, Braden Galloway, and Dexter Lawrence, tested positive for the SARM Ostarine. That’s an astounding 16-17% of the sample testing positive for the same banned performance enhancing drug. The players all play different positions and reportedly don’t associate much with one another in a personal capacity. All this would lead a reasonable person to assume that Clemson has an institutional PED issue ongoing. Here’s part of what coach Dabo Swinney had to say:
Let’s unpack this a bit.
First off, let’s point out that Dabo didn’t really say ‘sliver’ here. Instead he appears to say ‘slither’ twice, with the first one being corrected by the person reporting the quote. This means that Dabo is either a) a certified moron, or b) secretly British. My bet is on the former, but it is important to note that the two are not mutually exclusive.
While discussing the use and abuse of the English language, let’s also note how much time Dabo seems to spend assuring people he doesn’t know the meaning of words. Back in December Swinney was adamant that he had no idea what the word ‘lament’ meant, even though his thump-dented Bible includes a whole book on the subject. Give Dabo credit for being a marketing whiz, as he certainly knows how to play to his audience.
Dabo’s main implication here is that only having a ‘trace’ of a PED in your blood means it is insignificant. This is completely false. All substances found in blood or urine are going to be in tiny amounts, as most of the sample will be made of, you guessed it, blood or urine. Dabo seems to expect his piss is going be made up of 50% foreign substances at any given time.
Dexter Lawrence told the positive test showed a .02% reading of Ostarine in his system. Speaks to Dabo’s comment from earlier in the week about a “trace amount”, but there is no threshold for PEDs as there is for marijuana or other recreational drugs. Any percent gets you nicked.— SportsTalk (@sportstalksc) December 27, 2018
As reported by SportsTalk, Lawrence had a 0.02% reading of Ostarine. This sounds small until you consider that this represents an approximate 1g of Ostarine in his blood. The standard daily dose of this stuff is 15-25mg. Given constant elimination by the body (half-life of 24 hours), acquiring 1g in your blood would mean taking massive doses of the stuff over 40-50 days, or more likely, a large bolus injection at some point in the past.
As for everyone having 1g of random chemicals in their blood at any given time, this is complete nonsense. Most people I know only put food, water, alcohol, and prescribed medications into their bodies. If you’re ordering illicit supplements from Russia or China on the internet and eating them by the handful daily, you’re probably going to have weird stuff in your blood. The remaining 99% of us are likely to be doing just fine.
On to Dabo’s assertion that Ostarine is found in everything, this is also patently false. The route of administration of Ostarine is oral. I can’t even find anything that says Ostarine is readily absorbed by skin. The only products containing Ostarine that I can find for sale online are in the form of capsules or liquid drops. The idea that manufacturers are secretly adding an expensive illicit drug to their hair products or ointments, and furthermore keeping it a secret, is laughable. Why would anyone want Ostarine hair gel anyway?! First off, you have limited skin contact, then you have the skin absorption issue, and on top of that large doses of the stuff could theoretically lead to male pattern baldness. Making Ostarine hair gel is a dubious business model to say the least.
Let’s now take a moment to consider whether the diverse group of players below would be using the same hair products. I’ll just say I’m skeptical.
If the players did indeed ingest massive amounts of Ostarine through innocuous supplements they purchased on their own, you have to ask why they would bother with such supplements given the resources available to them at Clemson. It is also the athletes responsibility to get any such products checked by athletic department, but laced product wouldn’t explain the massive amount of the stuff in Lawrence’s system.
In recent days Clemson has been investigating the Epsom salt used in it’s float tanks for possible contamination. If commercially purchased Epsom salt was found to be laced with enough Ostarine to cause the blood concentrations seen in Dexter Lawrence, then we have a national scandal on our hands the likes of which the country has never seen. This is so improbable it borders on ludicrous to even consider it.
The one thing the three players have in common, apart from their alleged and unlikely shared preference for hair care products, is that they have all have been injured and had surgery at some point in the past few years. Given the high concentrations evident in Lawrence’s system and Ostarine’s noted ability to promote healing in soft tissues, I’d be willing to bet that all three players received bolus injections of the stuff as part of their treatment following surgery.
I stand by my assertion earlier that any reasonable person that looks at all the facts available here would conclude that Clemson has an institutional doping problem. All three players have reportedly retained legal counsel, ostensibly for an appeal to the NCAA to be reinstated. If you give the players the benefit of the doubt and take them at their word that they have not knowingly ingested Ostarine, then I would encourage their lawyers to have some hard questions for the Clemson administration about the specifics of the post-op treatment provided to their clients.