ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia offensive lineman Kolton Houston is still NCAA ineligible and will not play in 2012 due to a long-running saga over a positive drug test for a banned substance.
Houston took the substance to help him heal from a shoulder injury in high school, according to UGA, and initially tested positive in April 2010. The substance, norandrolone, was prescribed by what UGA athletic trainer Ron Courson called "an unscrupulous physician."
Two and a half years later, the substance has not left Houston's system.
Houston, a sophomore who had a chance to start, sat out the 2011 season because of an NCAA issue. After initially feeling Houston would be good to go this season, the Bulldogs found out this week that he once again would have to sit out.
Houston finished the spring as the first-string right tackle for Georgia. He was set to compete with freshman John Theus to hold that spot.
Richt said Houston's intention is to stick it out and Georgia and try to gain eligibility.
"We've not given up hope," Georgia head coach Mark Richt said.
In a statement, UGA said that prior to Houston's enrollment at Georgia, he "sustained a shoulder injury while participating in high school football. During his recovery process, he was unknowingly given a substance which was banned by the NCAA. During normal NCAA randomized drug testing for student-athletes, Kolton was tested during his first semester and tested positive for Norandrolone, a performance enhancing substance."
Over the past two years, Houston continued to test positive. Richt said that was due to the substance never leaving his system. UGA appealed the positive test for Houston last December.
That subsequently led to a series of correspondence between UGA and the NCAA, including strongly-worded letters between UGA athletics director Greg McGarity and NCAA president Mark Emmert.
On July 12, McGarity wrote Emmert to say that "there is scientific evidence that clearly demonstrates that there has been no re-use over the past two-and-a-half years. ... It is disappointing to witness this scenario play out for two-and-a-half years with Mr. Houston's eligibility in question." He went on to call the case "unique, as the scientific documentation illustrates."
Emmert wrote back on Tuesday.
"While I understand the institution's empathy for Kolton's situation, I am surprised the institution would make such a request," Emmert wrote McGarity. "That surprise stems in part from the fact that Kolton tested positive in subsequent drug tests after his initial sanction, and the Drug Test Appeals Subcommittee did not impose additional sanctions for those positive tests due to the 'declining value' argument that supported the conclusion that there was no new use of the banned substance."
Emmert went on to write that he understood UGA's desire to help Houston because it felt Houston has done the right thing for the past two-and-a-half years. (Emmert put "right" in quotation marks.)
"However, that is the expectation for all of our student-athletes," Emmert wrote. "The fact remains that Kolton currently has the presence of a banned substance in his system and he will not be able to participate in NCAA competition until that presence drops to an appropriate threshold."
In addition, Ron Courson wrote a lengthy letter to McGarity on July 9 to state his "serious concerns in the management" of the Houston case.
According to Courson, Houston was "directed to an unscrupulous physician who injected him with a banned substance." But Courson said that there were "inherent flaws" in the NCAA drug testing program, which have been "raised many times before by sports medicine professionals, but never addressed adequately by the NCAA."