Justin Houston was subjected to drug-testing at UGA

Georgia's Justin Houston runs back an interception against Georgia Tech last November. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia's Justin Houston runs back an interception against Georgia Tech last November. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

The questions started coming not long after the news began to circulate that Justin Houston allegedly flunked a drug test at an NFL combine,  according to a story first reported by FoxSports.com that also is being reported in numerous media outlets. People wanted to know if anything like this happened with Houston while he was at UGA?

The answer is, we don’t know.

Houston was suspended for the first two games of the 2009 season at Georgia for an undetermined “violation of team rules.” That may or may not have been because he tested positive for drugs. But UGA didn’t say then and it isn’t going to say now. Test results are protected by “HIPAA,” the federal law that ensures that medical information remains private.

What we do know is Georgia tests its student-athletes regularly for alcohol and drugs, including marijuana and performance-enhancing drugs. According to Athletic Director Greg McGarity, student-athletes are exposed to testing in four different ways: preseason physicals, random, reasonable suspicion and periodic visits from the NCAA.

The punishment for failing such tests are spelled out in UGA’s student-athlete handbook. McGarity, reading from the 2010-11 edition of that handbook, said that a first offense at UGA calls for a suspension of “no less than 10 percent of the total season of competition,” drug counseling and evaluation, 20 hours of community service and the notification of the head coach, director of sports medicine, team physician and parents or guardians. They are also placed on athletic department probation and subjected to more testing.

A second offense is a suspension from 50 percent of the total season and a third is revocation of scholarship.

“That’s our policy,” McGarity said. “We adhere to it and follow it to the letter.”

Drug-testing is common in college athletics and UGA was considered in pioneer in the practice of it. It installed one of the first comprehensive testing programs in the country under AD Vince Dooley in the 1980s. However, testing policies among individual schools vary widely, according to a recent report by The Associated Press.

Houston (6-3, 270), a defensive end, left Georgia after his junior season this past fall to enter the draft. He was one of two players to test positive for marijuana, according to the FoxSports report. Iowa defensive tackle Christian Ballard was the other, it said.

D. Orlando Ledbetter, the AJC’s Falcons reporter and NFL expert, said teams would have already had knowledge of the alleged failed tests. Houston projected as a late first-round or early second-round draft pick.

Houston was an All-SEC first-team selection after recording 67 tackles, 18½ tackles for loss and 10 sacks this past season, en route to an All-SEC first-team selection. He played defensive end and outside linebacker during his three-year tenure with the Bulldogs and has been evaluated at both positions by NFL scouts.

– Chip Towers, The UGA Blog

140 comments Add your comment

j

April 26th, 2011
6:48 pm

St. Clarkston

April 26th, 2011
6:52 pm

I’m a big Justin Houston fan but what a stupid bone head move.

Chip Towers

April 26th, 2011
6:56 pm

j: Yes indeed you are. Congrats.

jwritz

April 26th, 2011
7:01 pm

Houston, drops to second round…good move Justin

BG

April 26th, 2011
7:05 pm

Chip, Houston was suspended for 6 games at UGA one year for probably the same thing. UGA is more strict than any other team in the SEC when it comes to testing and the punishment that follows for failing a drug test.

Bozo Houston

April 26th, 2011
7:06 pm

What do you expect, Houston is a typical low class UGA clown. And he’s just the tip of the iceberg of the malignant problems in Athens.

Carlyle Rood

April 26th, 2011
7:11 pm

Can you test positive for marijuana if you’ve only been exposed to it second-hand? I ask because I seem to recollect an Olympic athlete some time ago in a similar situation.

wally

April 26th, 2011
7:18 pm

I have been a fan of UGA since the early 70’s and it get harder and harder to follow the Bulldogs when you see such things like this happening in the sports world. Apparently today,s atheletes are not being trained to abstain to such things as this… I wush there was and easy solution, but apparently there is not, however this sports fan is rapidly losing his respect for the sports world. We have too long put our atheletes on a pedestal and now it is time for the athletes to earn our respect.

bgdawg

April 26th, 2011
7:18 pm

bozo you are at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to idiots

Hahahaha.. Make it a larger please

April 26th, 2011
7:19 pm

Ryan

April 26th, 2011
7:24 pm

The “embarrassing lack of effort” makes even more sense now

Rick B

April 26th, 2011
7:27 pm

Carlyle,

Second had smoke and testing positive, is like getting pregnant from exposure to the toilet seat.

I really don’t see this as a big deal. However, he needs to stop this when a drug test is coming up. Smoking pot and being stupid are two different things.

JDawg1785

April 26th, 2011
7:28 pm

I supported him between the hedges and I’ll support him wherever he ends up in the NFL. That being said, how stupid can you be? C’mon man!

oldschoolfootball

April 26th, 2011
7:32 pm

uga under dooley may have been a pioneer in testing, but apparently they are not reporting what the find.

dawgforever

April 26th, 2011
7:34 pm

i LOVE justin houston and uga but this is such a stupid move its only a few days until the draft so much for him being a first rounder at least we still ahve AJ GREEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

dawgforever

April 26th, 2011
7:35 pm

I will still support justin in the nfl though!!!!!!!

GT Alum

April 26th, 2011
7:36 pm

Rick B -

At UGA, he wouldn’t have always known when a test was coming, since some of them are random. However, he should’ve known he was going to be tested at some point before the draft.

2 game suspension would fit the rule for a first offense, though. Couldn’t give him 1 game, because that would be less than 10%, so 2 games would be the least he could get according to UGA’s policy.

Flat Tire on I-95 In Jacksonville

April 26th, 2011
7:37 pm

I wonder what the people of California have to say about this

GT Alum

April 26th, 2011
7:38 pm

oldschoolfootball -

If you read the article, they can’t report if he tested positive because it would be against HIPAA. They could be prosecuted if they disclosed it. The results of the NFL test shouldn’t be public, either, for the same reason. Whoever leaked it could be in trouble if it gets traced back to the source.

AthensDawg

April 26th, 2011
7:45 pm

Good gracious. Doin it the old Georgia way.

Flat Tire on I-95 In Jacksonville

April 26th, 2011
7:45 pm

I just love the mediocrity, arrests and trouble making ball players at UGA

I wonder if the DREAM TEAM will make us proud of championships or what were all use to

Champions of Arrests

GHunt

April 26th, 2011
7:52 pm

Think people! Why is this storyline surfacing two days before the draft? Could it be a part of the misinformation that can cause a good player to drop so that your team can draft the player.
In the last days before the draft GMs and front office personnel leak stories intentionally to confuse the competition.

well Ghunt

April 26th, 2011
8:12 pm

you may be right, this is not coincidental. but more importantly – JH made some stupid moves it appears

UGASlobberknocker

April 26th, 2011
8:15 pm

Hats off to Will Muschamp for his dismissal of J Jenkins. Looks like there is a new sheriff in town down in Gainesville. No more Chris Rainey type crap under him

Dbalcer

April 26th, 2011
8:15 pm

Whoever leaked this should be found and punished since it is a HIPPA violation. It is illegal to give the results of medical test without permission and this would fall under that. It should concern us that it is reported because we value our medical privacy. If true then the teams that want to draft him already know and will do what they should.

UGASlobberknocker

April 26th, 2011
8:15 pm

I may be wrong but I dont think it is a HIPPA violation in a workplace test. Just as a student athlete.

SSIgator

April 26th, 2011
8:29 pm

“a first offense at UGA calls for a suspension of “no less than 10 percent of the total season of competition,” drug counseling and evaluation, 20 hours of community service”

So did he do comunnity service of 20 hours? That would solve part of the puzzle.

Falcon Fan

April 26th, 2011
8:54 pm

Ok, first of all, B.J. Raji did the same thing and he worked out, as everyone would agree. Babineaux sold the stuff and got arrested for it, still on the Falcons. Face it people, smoking weed isn’t that big of a deal as long as you aren’t going to jail for it.

MDAWG24

April 26th, 2011
8:55 pm

I hope the young man can get his act together.

SOGADOG

April 26th, 2011
8:58 pm

Mr. Towers,

Interesting and informative piece. Glad you are writing this blog.

BuzzMachine

April 26th, 2011
9:02 pm

the way uga has been playing the last few years, maybe half the team has been smoking it up before games.

falconfiend

April 26th, 2011
9:07 pm

This is the first time i heard this story. They did not mention houston and ballard positives on NFL network after the combines. Houston and any other young player have to prove themselves in the league anyway. Houston is still a first round talent wherever he is picked.

Rueben Houston is a Tech man

April 26th, 2011
9:09 pm

Typical dope smokin’ smack talking’ UGA player. Should follow the footsteps of fine Tech men like Rueben Houston.

RichmondDawg

April 26th, 2011
9:11 pm

Evidently screeds against the drug war are frowned upon in Georgia. But seriously, if you have a job that tests for drugs, you’re an idiot for using them. I worked at a warehouse in college, and if you failed a drug test or breathalyzer, you were fired, immediately. No appeals, no excuses, your check will be along in the mail.

Chucktown38

April 26th, 2011
9:27 pm

Gotta love that UGA talent. Were there is one there are many.

Just Say No

April 26th, 2011
9:29 pm

UGA has a very strict drug policy in place compared to other teams in the NCAA and the SEC. I think it gives UGA a recruiting disadvantage with how strict its drug policy is. All teams should be held to the same policy.

P. Bull Terrier

April 26th, 2011
9:32 pm

“The punishment for failing such tests are”…blah, blah, blah,”…notification of …parents or guardians.”

There was once a day when a student’s biggest fear was that their parents would find out what they did wrong. Sadly, those days are long past.

Michael

April 26th, 2011
9:33 pm

i kind of shrug off this kind of thing. yeah, it’s stupid…but sometimes even pretty level headed people end up doing something stupid. is marajuana use terrible? not by my standards.

but look at it this way: Calvin Johnson tested positive before the draft. he’s now a top receiver in the NFL. oh, and he worked towards curing cancer. nobody talks about him like a low class piece of trash.

I-DOG

April 26th, 2011
9:39 pm

You gotta respect Muschamp for dismissing Jenkins. This would not have happened under the previous Florida regimes and it tells me that Florida might be even more of a force to be reckoned with in the future. I think this year might be a transition for the Gators, but this sends a strong message to the team and I think that will serve Muschamp’s squad well in the future. In any case, he did the right thing and you have to respect that.

D A DoubleU G

April 26th, 2011
9:48 pm

It’s interesting…….

he UGA and Tech fans at Turner Field, as we speak, seem to be intertwined, enjoying the game with one another, having fun together.

And then there are the teenagers on these blogs who cannot seem to say anything positive.

WOW

April 26th, 2011
9:53 pm

Stay away from Justin Houston! Warren Sapp was a pot-smoker,too, and we all know how he turned out! A bad influence on the whole team. Never did nuthin but make plays and win. Who needs him!

mgdawg

April 26th, 2011
9:56 pm

This is just dumb, you know when you are going to the combine that you will be tested. Atleast get clean for that amount of time so that you don’t test positive and look like a complete idiot.

North Ave Trade School Hater

April 26th, 2011
10:09 pm

What a complete idiot to be smoking before the combine. And I went to UGA. That being said, WOW has a great point.

RxDawg

April 26th, 2011
10:17 pm

Oops. Houston probably thought he was in the clear, but UHOH. I like WOW’s post. I seriously doubt NFL teams are going to get that bent out of shape over it.

Dawg89

April 26th, 2011
10:27 pm

That’s gonna be some expensive weed. Say hello to rounds two and three.

BG

April 26th, 2011
10:33 pm

Justin will still be a late first or early 2nd rounder.

Paul in RDU

April 26th, 2011
10:35 pm

@Michael
You are not completely correct about Calvin Johnson testing positive for marijuana before the draft. In Johnson’s case he admitted in predraft interviews with teams that he had smoked dope in the past. He did not fail his predraft drug screen. In Houston’s case it seems that he tested positive at a scheduled drug screen. I don’t think it says anything about his attitude and morals but it does make a statement about his intelligence.

D A DoubleU G

April 26th, 2011
10:37 pm

Good…..

UGA just beat Tech in baseball

No “sweep” talk from them.

UGA has now won the last football, basketball, and baseball meeting. But they will still live in the past I am willing to bet….

Paul in RDU

April 26th, 2011
10:38 pm

D A DoubleU G

April 26th, 2011
9:48 pm
It’s interesting…….

he UGA and Tech fans at Turner Field, as we speak, seem to be intertwined, enjoying the game with one another, having fun together.
—————
I thought that the City of Atlanta has laws against that kind of thing. Is Larry Flint videotaping?

Paul in RDU

April 26th, 2011
10:41 pm

D A DoubleU G
Hopefully the fans from both teams at Turner Field were more interested in raising money for Johnathon Taylor than who won a meaningless game.