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Experts doubt Allonzo Trier’s explanation for PED suspension

Medical professionals say it’s “unlikely” this banned substance reappeared more than a year later

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Lost in the chaos surrounding Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller this week is the fact that standout junior Allonzo Trier missed two games in Oregon trip after failing another drug test.

It was announced last Thursday that Trier was declared ineligible by the NCAA for testing positive for the same substance he tested positive for in 2016 which would up costing him 19 games.

“Earlier today, the University of Arizona was notified that the NCAA has declared Allonzo Trier ineligible,” the UA stated. “In late January 2018, Allonzo participated in an NCAA student-athlete drug screening. The results of that test, confirmed today, revealed the reappearance of a trace amount of a banned substance. The amount detected was miniscule by scientific standards and appears to be a remnant of a substance, which the NCAA agreed, Allonzo had unknowingly ingested in 2016. The University is appealing the decision and is hopeful that Allonzo will regain his eligibility soon.”

Trier’s attorney Steve Thompson said, “The experts tell us Ostarine can be stored in fatty tissues for a long time, and tests can be negative but then later be positive as the substance comes out.”

However, some of the most well-respected experts in the field don’t agree with this.

“Certainly a number of negative results in between support the conclusion that the most recent positive was not connected to the original inadvertent use,” Don Catlin, founder and former director of the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory, told Yahoo! Sports.

Thompson also claimed that Trier tested positive because he was dehydrated that particular morning, but Catlin’s not buying that either.

”It would not seem a very plausible explanation for a positive drug test occurring a year after inadvertent use of Ostarine,” Catlin said. “The pH of the negative samples in between could be compared to that of the original and recent positive to evaluate that further.”

Trier has practiced with the team the last two days, just as he continued to practice with the team during his suspension and appeal last season. However, David Ferguson, professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Minnesota, thinks that Trier faces “an uphill battle” with this particular appeal because of Ostarine’s 24 hour half-life.

“Some people have different levels of enzymes to process drug molecules and things can linger longer, but even if he has deficiencies in his clearance, it wouldn’t go to zero and then come back,” Ferguson said. “That’s highly unlikely unless there was something really odd going on.”

Many people cited what happened with former Georgia offensive lineman Kolton Houston to compare to Trier, but there are some major differences:

  1. Houston’s drug levels never went to zero and then came back,
  2. The drug was Norandrolone, a true anabolic steroid. Ostarine is what’s known as a SARM, and according to USADA, has not been approved for human consumption or use in the United States or in any other country.

“You do research to pick that drug,” Ferguson continued. “You don’t pick that one by accident. That particular drug is pretty good at targeting muscle and bone and not causing the side effects of anabolic steroids. You don’t get enlargement of your breasts, you don’t get changing of your voice.”

Arizona seems to be forced to move forward without Trier for the rest of the season, and potentially its head coach as well. We’ll see how it impacts seeding moving into the NCAA Tournament as well as how the team plays vs. Stanford, Cal, and in the Pac-12 Tournament next week.