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Clemson DL Dexter Lawrence officially ineligible for national championship vs. Alabama

Clemson will officially be without Dexter Lawrence in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich released a statement Thursday saying that Lawrence, the team’s star defensive tackle, along with tight end Braden Galloway and offensive lineman Zach Giella, will not be available to play on Monday night.

The three failed NCAA drug tests ahead of the CFP semifinal game against Notre Dame. Clemson filed appeals on their behalf, but their suspensions were upheld for the Cotton Bowl against the Irish. That put the availability of the three players in serious jeopardy for the title game. And on Thursday, the school confirmed that the Tigers will face the Tide without the three.

“As requested by these student-athletes, Clemson filed notices of appeal with the NCAA. We will continue to work with the three impacted student-athletes and their legal representatives over the coming weeks to prepare the appeals. Neither clemson, Galloway, Giella nor Lawrence anticipate having further comment on this matter until after the appeals have concluded,” Radakovich said.

The three players are permitted to attend the game, Clemson said, and will join the team in California “later this week.”

Related: Look back at last year’s Sugar Bowl: 

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Sugar Bowl 2018: Alabama vs. Clemson

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NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 01: Clemson Tigers running back Tavien Feaster (28) is brought down by Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Rashaan Evans (32) during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers on January 1, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 01: Clemson Tigers wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud (21) watches a deflected pass fall incomplete as Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (29) and Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Deionte Thompson (14) defend during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers on January 1, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 01: Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (29) gets a hand up to deflect a sure touchdown pass intended for Clemson Tigers wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud (21) during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers on January 1, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 01: Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (29) gets a hand up to deflect a sure touchdown pass intended for Clemson Tigers wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud (21) during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers on January 1, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 01: Clemson Tigers wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (13) and Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Levi Wallace (39) chase a deflected pass in the endzone late in the game during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers on January 1, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 01: Medical personnel tend to the leg injury of Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Anfernee Jennings (33) late in the fourth quarter during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers on January 1, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 01: Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) is all smiles as the confetti falls on the trophy presentation following the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers on January 1, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 01: Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Terrell Lewis (24) and Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Shyheim Carter (5) celebrate with fans and teammates after the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers on January 1, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 01: Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Terrell Lewis (24) celebrates with fans and teammates after the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers on January 1, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 01: Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) celebrates with Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Raekwon Davis (99) and fans after the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers on January 1, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)




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The players tested positive for ostarine

Last week, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told reporters that the three players tested positive for trace levels of ostarine and have no clue how the substance ended up in their systems.

Here is how the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency defines ostarine, which is considered a performance-enhancing substance:

Ostarine is the trademarked name for a Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator (SARM) that is not approved for human use or consumption in the U.S., or in any other country. In recent years, WADA has reported an increasing number of positive tests involving SARMs, and athletes who use these substances most likely obtain them through black market channels.

Research has shown that SARMs like ostarine have fewer androgenic properties, meaning they have less influence on the development and balance of male hormones, including testosterone. While they are not yet approved for human use, SARMs are of interest to the medical community because they might be effective at treating different health conditions without resulting in the negative side effects of steroids.

Swinney told reporters that the substance can be found in some everyday products like hair products or protein. According to the USADA, however, it is only found in “illegal” products and is sometimes put into supplements but omitted from the product’s label.

After the initial positive tests, each player submitted a B sample. The B sample for each player also came back positive.

The impact of Dexter Lawrence’s absence

While the other two suspended players are reserves, Lawrence has been a key cog on Clemson’s star-studded defensive line.

A three-year starter at defensive tackle, Lawrence is one of the best players at his position in the country and is considered a potential first-round NFL draft choice. Even with Lawrence out of the lineup, the Tigers controlled the line of scrimmage against Notre Dame. Albert Huggins, a key part of the defensive line rotation, started in Lawrence’s place and will do the same against Alabama.

Lawrence, listed at 350 pounds, is adept at stuffing the run. That’s where he will be missed against the Crimson Tide. Notre Dame’s Dexter Williams was able to slip through the line for a few nice games on Saturday, but was mostly kept in check. Alabama has three NFL-caliber backs in Damien Harris, Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs. Containing that trio, as well as getting after Heisman runner-up Tua Tagovailoa, will be a tremendous challenge for the Tigers.

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