LSU got some positive news on Thursday.
According to multiple outlets, Tigers coach Ed Orgeron announced that Kristian Fulton, a heralded cornerback out of New Orleans, has been reinstated by the NCAA. This season, Fulton was set to serve the second of a two-year suspension for both failing and tampering with an NCAA drug test — something Fulton admitted to doing.
Now, provided Fulton passes an NCAA administered drug test, he will be eligible to compete for the Tigers this fall.
Why did the NCAA suspend Fulton for two years?
Fulton’s tale is a fairly complicated one. After playing in three games in 2016 as a true freshman, it was not publicly known why he didn’t suit up in 2017. However, his father and attorney later went to the press and explained that Fulton was suspended from competition for two years by the NCAA.
The reason? He, per Sports Illustrated, swapped out his own urine for somebody else’s during an NCAA drug test in February 2017. He got caught.
Ordinarily, the NCAA’s penalty for a failed drug test is a one-year suspension. However, that suspension, as in Fulton’s case, is extended to “two calendar years” for a student-athlete who is “involved in a case of clearly observed tampering with an NCAA drug test as documented per NCAA drug-testing protocol by a drug-testing crew member.”
Kristian Fulton, entering his third year as an LSU cornerback, is suffering through one of the most unusual and severe penalties the NCAA doles out to an individual. In a wave of panic, Fulton attempted to use another person’s urine as his own during an NCAA drug test in February 2017. He got caught and is paying dearly. The NCAA punishment for tampering or attempting to tamper during a drug test is a two-year ban from participating in college football games.
Fulton tried to take the test with somebody else’s urine because he thought the NCAA was testing for marijuana. They weren’t. They were checking for performance-enhancing drugs. He passed the test.
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. He passed the test—the very same test at which he attempted to cheat.
“He thought the test tested for marijuana, too,” Keith Fulton said. “He had smoked (marijuana) two days before.”
Why was Fulton reinstated?
This gets into the minutiae of NCAA policies.
LSU backed appeals submitted on Fulton’s behalf on several occasions from many different angles. Earlier this month, it was reported that the appeal was denied (again) by the NCAA. But LSU kept trying, and ultimately, according to Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger, the NCAA’s interpretation committee agreed with a point made in a letter sent to the NCAA by LSU athletic director Joe Alleva.
#LSU AD Joe Alleva sent to the NCAA a 4-page letter outlining reasons for reinstating Kristian Fulton.
The biggest: The NCAA charged Fulton with "tampering" (2 year penalty) & he should have been charged with "urine substitution" (1-year penalty). Interpretation committee agreed
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) August 23, 2018
What does this mean for LSU?
It’s a pretty big deal on the football field.
Fulton, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound corner, was the top recruit in the state of Louisiana in 2016. With Donte Jackson in the NFL, Orgeron was looking for anybody to step into the spot opposite star Greedy Williams on the defense. Terrence Alexander, a graduate transfer from Stanford, joined the roster.
Now Fulton, who has been practicing with the team, can join the fold. The Tigers’ opener against Miami is only 10 days away.
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