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Iowa finds issues in drug testing program

I guess this is what they mean by getting out in front of the story.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and athletic director Gary Barta held a news conference Tuesday morning where they revealed very little actual news. Despite rampant rumors about a wave of drug-related suspensions, Iowa announced no additional personnel updates other than what was released Monday night.

To recap: Top running back Adam Robinson has been suspended until January at the earliest for unspecified reasons, while running backs Jewel Hampton and Brandon Wegher are transferring. Wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos won't play for Iowa again after his arrest last week on several drug charges.

That's it.

"We don't anticipate any more announcements on our roster," Ferentz said.

You can breathe a little easier now, Iowa fans. The roster won't be depleted for the Insight Bowl matchup against Missouri on Dec. 28.

The only real news from Iowa City today is that the school reviewed its drug-testing program following the DJK mess last week and found "some flaws and inconsistencies," Barta said. The school didn't find any specific acts of cheating or any cover-up attempts by those performing the tests, but Barta has "strong evidence" to believe that student-athletes likely have found ways to get around the testing program.

He didn't go into specifics.

"We have not caught anybody getting around the system,” Barta said. “Unfortunately, there’s enough evidence in our protocol to say we have to tighten up. It’s pretty likely that someone -- I don’t know if it’s 1 or 21 -- someone has gotten around this process.

"And if it’s only one, it makes you doubt all testing.”

All Iowa student-athletes are randomly tested at least once a year by the school, including all 92 football players this year, coach Kirk Ferentz said. The Big Ten and the NCAA also conduct separate drug testing. An Iowa student-athlete automatically misses athletic competition with a first positive drug test. Those who refuse testing count as having tested positive.

A few nuggets:

  • Robinson remains eligible and Ferentz hinted that his suspension is for academic reasons, stretching back to Robinson sitting out the start of the Ohio State game on Nov. 20. "It's my anticipation that he'll be back in January," Ferentz said. Hampton's decision to transfer was mutual, Ferentz said.

  • The coach didn't want Robinson and Hampton to be grouped in with Johnson-Koulianos, the only Iowa player facing legal action at this time. Unfortunately, holding a news conference like this allows folks to draw those conclusions.

  • Asked if other players knew about DJK's problems, Ferentz said: "My guess is some did, and if that’s the case, it’s unfortunate that nobody came forward."

  • Iowa City police gave Ferentz a head's up about the DJK situation last Tuesday while the arrest was taking place.

  • Ferentz on player conduct: "My guess is the behaviors of this year's team off the field aren't much different [from last season]. We had a lot of the same parties on the team last year. When you win 11 games, everything's fine, and when you win seven, it's a little different."

  • Ferentz on DJK: "Shock's a strong word. I think I got over that about 20 years ago. Disappointment is obviously a big part of the equation."

  • Drug testing for Iowa student-athletes continued last week, although it wasn't out of the ordinary, Barta said.

  • Barta on the state of the program: "The state of the program is in great hands. We're dealing with some important and challenging issues, but I have great confidence in Kirk's handling of them."

Anyway, an odd day in Iowa City, but not a catastrophic one for the program as it prepares for the Insight Bowl.