CFL prospect Smith tests positive for substance

Quinn Smith. Dave Chidley/CP

Concordia defensive lineman Quinn Smith, a top prospect for next week’s CFL draft, admitted Thursday he tested positive for a banned substance.

Smith, who raised eyebrows at the CFL combine in March with his ability on both sides of the ball, confirmed in a statement he tested positive for the anabolic steroid Stanozolol prior to auditioning for league officials. It’s the same substance Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson tested positive for at the ’88 Seoul Summer Games, which resulted in him being stripped of the 100-metre gold medal and suspended.

"I accept full responsibility for the result of Stanozolol metabolite in my test," Smith said in the release. "I can assure you it was not my intention to use a banned substance or to try to beat the system.

"I did not properly research the contents of supplements I obtained online and I will accept the consequences of my actions."

Smith added he has asked that his B sample be tested and is awaiting those results.

Prior to releasing his statement, Smith sent emails to all nine CFL teams informing them of the positive test and formally apologizing.

"I have the deepest respect for the CFL, the CIS and Concordia University and am thankful for the opportunities they offer young people like myself," Smith said. "I have brought undue negative attention to these organizations and for this I am truly sorry.

"I will have no further comments to offer publicly."

The six-foot-two, 305-pound Smith, a Toronto native, was ranked fourth among the CFL scouting bureau’s final top-15 prospects for Tuesday night’s draft, heady stuff considering Smith wasn’t rated on either the fall or winter lists.

A big reason for Smith’s meteoric rise was his performance at the combine, where he impressed as both an offensive and defensive lineman. That versatility had Smith being mentioned as a bona fide first-round prospect — and possibly going first overall to the expansion Ottawa Redblacks — in the ’14 draft.

On the first day of testing, Smith benched 225 pounds 28 times, had a 27.5-inch vertical jump and eight feet three inches in the broad jump. The next day, prior to the one-on-one drills, Smith posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.808 seconds, 7.56 seconds in the three-cone drill and 4.62 seconds in the shuttle.

If Smith’s B sample also tests positive, his college football career would be over. Smith still has two years of CIS eligibility remaining but as a first-time drug offender he’d receive a two-year ban.

But the positive test won’t hamper his ability to play in the CFL as a rookie.

Under the league’s drug policy, Smith will be deemed a first-time offender. He will automatically be subjected to mandatory testing and an assessment, followed by counselling.

A second offence will trigger a three-game suspension. The agreement also calls for a one-year ban for a third offence and a lifetime suspension for a fourth positive test.

"It’s very disappointing that this player tested positive for a banned substance," Michael Copeland, the CFL’s president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. "If he is drafted and signed by one of our teams, and the positive test is confirmed, he will immediately be subject to mandatory testing as governed by our drug policy.

"While we never want to see a player test positive for a banned substance, it does demonstrate the benefit and effectiveness of testing prospects as they prepare for the CFL combine and draft."

The CFL’s drug policy is part of the league’s collective bargaining agreement with the CFL Players’ Association. The two sides are currently negotiating a new deal with the current one scheduled to expire May 31.

The question remains, however, what impact the positive test will have on Smith’s draft stock Tuesday night.

Toronto Argonauts GM Jim Barker said for some teams, the news will impact their overall assessment of the former Concordia star. But Barker wouldn’t say whether his opinions of Smith have changed as a result of his miscue.

"It really depends on the team," said Barker, who has the sixth overall selection Tuesday. "The kid had no idea what he was taking contained a banned substance, all he thought he was doing was taking a supplement to try and make himself better.

"Teams will take things different ways. To say whether it’s going to hurt his draft stock is speculation. It goes into the pool of knowledge that we have on every player. It’s going to be viewed both ways by people. It adds intrigue to the draft, good, bad or indifferent."

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