Today I am here to announce that I will no longer participate in athletics at the University of Kentucky. Ever since I was six years old I knew that I wanted to attend the University of Kentucky and that dream has come true for me. I knew I wanted to graduate from high school and attend the University of Kentucky. This has also come true for me. This is something that I will never forget. This dream has come true for me and I have attended and graduated from my dream college. I will never forget Coach Brooks and Coach Ortmayer sitting down in my home and offering me an opportunity to come to the University of Kentucky and help turn around a program that has been struggling. On that day when Coach Brooks offered me a scholarship to the University of Kentucky, I accepted his offer to be a part of his program. With an extremely dedicated coaching staff and strong-willed guys that were alongside myself, we turned around a program that has seen three consecutive bowl game wins and this is something that I am proud of and will never forget. Today I am not here to discuss the name of the substance that I took nor the place that I got it from. Instead I am here to discuss the choice that I made to live a healthier life, how I attempted to do this, and the decisions that I made to reach this point. However, one poor decision has cost me my collegiate eligibility. An NCAA appeals panel consisting of representatives from member institutions decided my fate on Thursday May 21, 2009 at approximately 6:00 p.m. During an NCAA drug test given on February 24, 2009, I tested positive for a banned substance. Based on precedence, the appeals panel found that I was responsible for testing positive. Had they ruled that I did not have significant fault then I would have received a half year suspension or been restored my complete eligibility. The information that I am telling you today is the truth, documentation supports the claims that we made to the NCAA Appeals Panel and personnel from the university will concur that this is case as well.
I officially started my diet as a New Year’s resolution to myself. My goal was to drop from 286 pounds to around 275 pounds by losing body fat and becoming leaner. I have not yet reached my goal but I am a mere two pounds away. My mom was the first person to help me with my new decision. She began by cooking meals while I was home during the offseason that were low in fat and more healthy than what I had been eating back at college. After consulting with the strength and conditioning department, I asked my mom to buy me Omega-3 and fish oil pills and she did. I began this in December and have continued to the present.
The most difficult goal that I faced was to continue to eat healthy while at college. For the past four months I have purchased turkey burgers, turkey sausage and turkey bacon as a healthier alternative to beef. Receipts from the past several months clearly show this. Since I have started my diet I have lost nine pounds. I have reduced my body fat percentage from 14 percent last year to 11 percent this year. This is something that I am very proud of. I have worked hard to become a healthier person, overall.
In January, I walked into a vitamin/supplement store to find a vitamin supplement containing amino acids. I purchased this vitamin supplement but I also purchased another supplement that was suggested to me by the salesperson. It was a dietary supplement that could help make you lean and I purchased both of them. However, my only purpose that day was to buy a vitamin not any other supplement. I became aware over the process that we can be provided with only basic vitamins because of NCAA rules.
Also in January, as part of my new diet, I purchased a different protein shake because the one UK is allowed to provide us – is a good shake – but contains a high concentration of sugar and calories. I wanted to improve my health by putting high quality foods and supplements in my body. I decided to purchase an alternate protein shake other than what is allowed to be given to us by university per NCAA rules. The shakes given to us contain 32 grams of sugar and around 300 calories. The shake that I take now contains approximately 130 calories, 20 grams of protein, and less than one gram of sugar. I made a great effort to consume the best overall products that I could under NCAA rules.
On February 2, I implemented the supplement suggested to me by the salesperson into my diet. I made the decision to purchase this supplement. I made the decision to use this supplement.
Over the past four years I have established a great relationship with the athletic staff here at the University of Kentucky. I have always kept the staff informed with details of what I was considering taking. I always had full intentions of telling the staff exactly what I was taking at an earlier date, but I was occupied with rehabbing and when I finally decided to inform the staff of my decision to take this supplement it was too late.
From the last week in January until right before March 16, I had been rehabbing my shoulder from the previous season. This is thoroughly documented. With the worry of surgery and a busy schedule leading up to graduation, I had not spoken with our strength and conditioning staff about taking this supplement. This is something that I had always done previously. I had been taking the supplement approximately 15 days before I finally did go to our head trainer and tell him that I had been taking this supplement and had forgotten to talk to our strength and conditioning staff about it. I eventually did get around to telling someone what I was taking but it was too late.
On February 20, I received a cortisone shot in my left shoulder and I discussed later with our trainer if anything that I was taking would interfere with my cortisone shot. We discussed what I was taking and where I purchased everything. He recommended that I immediately stop taking it. Four days later the NCAA came into Lexington and did a random drug test and I was selected. I would find out after coming back from spring break that I had tested positive. My strength and conditioning coach knew I was taking an alternate protein drink, the fish oil, and the Omega-3.
In late January I was informed by our training staff that I would be restricted from activity. Our head trainer decided to take me out of normal activity for two to three weeks to monitor how my shoulder would respond. My shoulder did not respond accordingly. I went to the doctor on February 20th and he injected me with a cortisone shot in my shoulder. He informed me that I was not to engage in activity that would bother my shoulder. I was diagnosed with rotator cuff tendinitis. From January 29 to March 22, I did not exercise or lift weights. This time period for me was very upsetting because I was hurt and restricted from activity. Our strength coach is the person I confide in and use to gain information about supplements. Because of the injury, I was not in the weight room to have those normal conversations with our strength coach.
Injuries alienate athletes from the team and change the times that a person is even at the facilities. January 21 to March 22 was a setback for me as a person and as an athlete. I have everything to lose by taking a banned substance. That is the reason why I have been so careful up until this point. My thought process during this period was to be even more conscious of how much I was eating because I was restricted from most activities. I continued to take the vitamins and other supplements because they are all dietary supplements.
My 1st test results showed that I tested positive for a banned substance from the dietary supplement that I purchased along with the vitamins. I did not know that this supplement contained a banned substance. However, it was my responsibility to research this before I bought it or have it looked at by someone in our athletic facilities. All athletes at the University of Kentucky are well informed about the consequences of purchasing a supplement like I did. Every year we go through programs that outline and explain the rules. Clearly, I did not follow those rules on this one occasion. Every citizen in the United States faces a risk of taking an unknown substance when they walk into any store that sells vitamins, minerals, etc. Every athlete in the world faces the risk of suspension for taking a substance that has not been approved.
My goal of dieting was to prove to myself that I can control my eating habits and live a healthier life. I never intended to take a banned substance or gain any improper type of competitive advantage. I could not gain a competitive advantage if I was not even healthy to do so. The NCAA randomly tested me again six weeks after the positive test and my results were negative. The substance was no longer in my system. This shows that I had not been taking the substance long and most importantly that this was not the type of banned substance that remains in your system for a long period of time.
I do not need to cheat to be successful. I am a very self confident person. I have worked so hard my last year to finish up strong and be a representative for our senior class to show the younger guys that with hard work and pride anyone can reach their goals. Now, I feel better physically because I have made sacrifices that are hard for others to make and it will pay off for me whether it is on the football field or off the football field next season.
This dietary plan will carry over for me when I leave college. My family has a history of diabetes and high blood pressure. Injuries are a part of football and I have opened my eyes to the fact that the way I live my life is very important. I am a person who is extremely motivated and extremely strong willed. I had an opportunity to graduate early in December and leave college. However, I decided I would stretch out my classes and announce a second major. I come from a family with two parents who are military veterans and they have worked hard to become successful individuals in society. My desire is to become a successful individual in society as well. So far, I have shown people that I am a dedicated person.
This situation has cost me my eligibility as an athlete. I accept full responsibility for my decision to purchase this supplement. I am a young person that has made mistakes in my life but I have learned from them. I am going to make more mistakes in my life and I will learn from those too. I am certain that UK will ask me to come in and speak on different occasions about the problems with taking supplements. Hopefully, this will catch the attention of not only collegiate athletes, high school athletes, professional athletes, but just ordinary hard working people as well. This is not a situation that I want to forget about or run away from. I want to learn from this mistake and I want others to learn from my mistake as well. I have not spoken to the team, but I plan to do so when everyone is required to report back in June.
I will be leaving the country next Friday to further pursue my French studies. Coach Brooks and I have discussed several possibilities about my future. I may pursue a career with the NFL or come back to school and finish my second major. I am going to take some time to consider what I will do. At this time, I would like to thank the University of Kentucky for everything they have done for me since I have been here. I have memories over the past four years that I will cherish forever. Mr. Barnhart and Ms. Bell have been working with me through this process and they have done an excellent job. They have both been part of my family. They have represented me throughout this process. Coach Brooks is an absolutely amazing person. Our relationship has evolved so much over the past few years.
My fans and teammates will be disappointed when the news of this spreads. However, no one can be more disappointed than me. I was a leader on the team and I participated in the community. I will continue to be a part of the UK athletic department and volunteer in the community. The memories that I have gotten from my fans and my teammates will never be forgotten. I owe the state of Kentucky, the city of Lexington, and my fans everything that I have to offer. You truly have made me a successful person and I feel loved. I was born a Kentucky fan and I will die a Kentucky fan. I will be a Wildcat for life.”