Pubdate: Sat, 10 Jan 2015
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Copyright: 2015 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Author: Anne M. Peterson, AP Sports Writer
Note: Associated Press College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo and AP
Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins contributed to this report.


DALLAS (AP) - Oregon was forced to bench two players because of failed
drug tests days before the team competes in the first College Football
Playoff title game, the latest hit to a roster already depleted by

Wide receiver Darren Carrington and running back Ayele Forde did not
travel with Oregon for Monday's national championship game against
Ohio State after each failed NCAA-mandated drug test. Carrington
tested positive for marijuana; the results of Forde's test weren't

Oregon coach Mark Helfrich insisted Saturday that the team remained

"Unfortunately, we've been tested in the realm of guys not being
available for whatever reason all season long," Helfrich said. "And
our guys have stepped up."

The loss of Carrington is particularly difficult for the Ducks, who
are already short at receiver for Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback
Marcus Mariota.

The players were tested before the team's Rose Bowl appearance, a
person with direct knowledge of the tests told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of student privacy

The NCAA conducts random drug testing for championship events and bowl
games. Those tests can be done before or after an event and the school
is given no notice about how many players will be tested.

A failed test for recreational drugs results in the NCAA requiring the
school to declare the player ineligible. The penalty for a failed test
is 50 percent of a season, which means Carrington could miss up to
five games next year. The national championship would have been
Forde's last game.

Oregon can appeal the NCAA ruling. But on Saturday, Oregon coaches and
players said they were moving forward without Carrington and Forde.

"I think anytime you put something in your body that doesn't belong
there it's a bad decision," Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost

Not having Carrington leaves the Ducks down two key wide receivers
against Ohio State. Carrington, a 6-foot-2, 191-pound redshirt
freshman, had seven catches for 166 yards and two touchdowns in
Oregon's Rose Bowl victory over Florida State.

Mariota said the team was disappointed and that he hadn't talked to

"I think a lot of guys feel guilty like they should have helped,
including myself," Mariota said. "It's tough."

Last week, Oregon lost redshirt freshman receiver Devon Allen on the
opening kickoff with a knee injury. Allen had 41 catches for 684 yards
and seven touchdowns.

The Ducks have also been playing for the last four games without star
tight end Pharoah Brown, who went down with a season-ending leg injury
against Utah.

And before the season started, junior receiver Bralon Addison tore a
ligament in his left knee. Although Addison said Saturday at the
team's media availability in Dallas that he could play in the
championship game, Oregon's coaches don't want to burn his redshirt

The Ducks weren't only hit by injuries to receivers. They also were
able to overcome a spate of injuries to their offensive line.

"We have a bunch of highly skilled guys that are very confident in
what they're doing," Helfrich said. "Marcus is confident in those guys
and we're confident in those guys."

Carrington's absence leaves Oregon, which regularly uses three- and
four-receiver formations, with Byron Marshall (66 catches for 834
yards), Dwayne Stafford (39 for 578), Keanon Lowe (25 for 359) and
freshman Charles Nelson (11 for 101) to rely on.

"We all know as receivers that we're going to have to step up. It's
the last game of the season. We're going to have to make plays and
play basically our best game ever," Nelson said.

Helfrich confirmed that Forde was not with the team because of an NCAA
policy matter. A team spokesman said it was for the same reason as
Carrington's absence.

Forde, a senior running back who is a contributor on special teams,
played in all 14 games this season, with three carries for 17 yards.
He had a carry for five yards in the Pac-12 championship against Arizona.

It is not the first time a player at Oregon have faced allegations of
marijuana use. Back in 2012, a report in ESPN The Magazine estimated
that between 40 and 60 percent of Oregon players used marijuana -
which was blasted by then-coach Chip Kelly as inaccurate.

The state approved a measure last fall that legalizes certain amounts
of the drug for recreational use. However, that law does not take
effect until July 1, and Oregon maintains an aggressive drug policy
for its student athletes, which includes random testing. The program
has not indicated that would change with legalization.

"I think the biggest thing, from our standpoint, is there's no study
from a student athlete-type perspective that (marijuana) is a positive
in any way," Helfrich said at a news conference the day the measure

Though legalization efforts also have succeeded in Washington state
and Colorado, the NCAA maintains its policy against positive tests for
drugs, including marijuana, at championship events. Schools in those
states have also maintained drug policies for athletes.

Associated Press College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo and AP Sports
Writer Stephen Hawkins contributed to this report.  
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