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Dr. Saturday

LSU and Mathieu fire back, say USA Today story doesn’t reflect discussions with NFL teams

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

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(USA Today Sports Images)

USA Today dropped a bit of a bombshell, with a story that stated former cornerback Tyrann Mathieu told NFL teams failed 10 drug tests and then just stopped counting. This information was attributed to an unnamed NFL assistant coach.

It was predictable that LSU would respond. What was a bit of a surprise was the school's rebuttal also included a statement by Mathieu, who was dismissed from LSU's team last year, to dispute the accounts in the story.

[Related: Tyrann Mathieu claims he failed at least 10 drug tests at LSU]

The story, on LSU's official website with a byline of associate athletic director and sports information director Michael Bonnette, says Mathieu "contacted LSU" about the USA Today story and it "does not accurately reflect the discussions that he has had while on official visits to various NFL organizations." This is Mathieu's statement:

“It is irresponsible and shows a lack of integrity for anyone to disclose medical information regardless of how it was gathered,” Mathieu said. “I would expect that conversations regarding my drug testing history during the course of my medical treatment would be private. LSU has a strong drug testing program and LSU went to great lengths to help me in my treatment and recovery. I understand that many people enjoy reading about the negative side of sports, but to publish those second-hand comments without being given a chance to address that comment prior to the publication of the article is irresponsible.”

We agree with Mathieu's main assertion that NFL teams should not divulge very personal information gathered in private interviews. Doing so anonymously is cowardly. NFL teams have become more cavalier with that, also anonymously leaking Wonderlic scores as well, for example. The additional salacious pre-draft stories might be keep the NFL in the news, but commissioner Roger Goodell can't continue to turn a blind eye to his teams recklessly sharing personal information gathered during interviews in which players are expected to be honest. Shame on all of them for that.

LSU also had a problem on its hands, with the story out that a player supposedly claimed he failed at least 10 drug tests in school. The school, through a statement by athletic director Joe Alleva, "expressed confidence in LSU’s substance abuse program."

[Also: Arizona State AD upset with Notre Dame over possible game cancellation]

“LSU has a strong substance abuse program that tries to identify and assist in the treatment and long term recovery process of drug use and abuse, and it is a program we would put up against any in the country,” Alleva said. “Once a substance abuse problem is identified, LSU is diligent in tracking those individuals over extended periods of time with frequent testing and engages them in meaningful opportunities for support through counseling and substance abuse treatment.”

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