Posted: 6:53 p.m. Thursday, April 4, 2013
ESPN has a new report out claiming that there was a widespread synthetic marijuana problem at Auburn under Gene Chizik across 2010-11:
The 2010 national champion Auburn Tigers were gripped by an epidemic of synthetic marijuana use that led to a rash of failed drug tests and a decision at the highest levels of the university to keep the results confidential, ESPN has learned.
A six-month investigation by ESPN The Magazine and E:60 into the spread of synthetic marijuana at Auburn reveals that a dozen students on the football team, including its star running back, Michael Dyer, failed tests for the designer drug. The investigation also found that because the school did not implement testing for the drug until after it won the national championship in January 2011, as many as a dozen other seniors who used synthetic marijuana were never caught.
The star witness here is Dakota Mosley, who claims he failed seven consecutive tests for it shortly before allegedly being involved in the armed robbery that has put former teammate Antonio Goodwin in prison. It is the same incident involving Mike McNeil, who has unloaded some accusations of his own against the school this week. Goodwin claimed from jail that half the team used "spice", the street name for synthetic pot.
The NCAA ban on synthetic marijuana didn't go into effect until August of 2011, however the state of Alabama made it illegal in May of 2010. (Update: this article contradicts, saying it wasn't illegal until October 2011. Can anyone clarify here?) I can't think of one good reason why the school should not have notified parents or guardians about all of the failed tests, given that the substance is illegal in the state. The excuse, per AD Jay Jacobs:
"We did all we could do to educate our student-athletes until [we] could understand exactly what we're dealing with," Jacobs told The Magazine. "I think just like the rest of the campus, and the nation, we were trying to figure it out."
I am only aware of one other incident involving SEC teams and synthetic pot. In the fall of 2011, LSU suspended three players for synthetic pot use. Current head coach Gus Malzahn was on the Auburn staff as an assistant during this reported time of rampant synthetic pot usage.
Update, 9:15 pm ET
Auburn has addressed one concern:
Auburn says since it began testing for synthetic marijuana as banned substance, only 3 positive tests out of more than 2,500— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) April 5, 2013
According to the ESPN article, it became banned under Auburn's rules in August of 2011, the same time it became officially banned under NCAA rules. That sentence comes from a larger statement by Auburn's Jacobs, which can be found here. It also says nothing to address what the level of spice usage was before August of 2011.
Two parents who wished to remain anonymous told Auburn's Rivals.com affiliate that they had been notified of failed tests during the time ESPN reports that no parents had been notified.
The site also reports, without saying where it got this information, that Auburn requested that the drug testing company it uses deliver a test for spice in September of 2010. It says no such test existed at the time, so the school and the company worked together to create one. The first test developed reportedly only identified the presence of spice but not the level of it. Therefore, it says, one use would cause positive tests for weeks, so Auburn didn't want to punish players when they didn't know the nature of the drug's usage. It reports that a more sophisticated test became available in August of 2011 that does report the level of substance in the blood.