COLUMBIA — The NCAA on Tuesday announced the suspension of Missouri wide receiver Levi Copelin for the 2014 season because of a failed drug test.
In a statement released by Missouri, Copelin, a sophomore who had three catches for 61 yards last season, said he used an over-the-counter nutritional supplement without clearance from the athletics department.
The NCAA's policy on banned drugs notes that there is "no complete list of banned substances." It further states that dietary supplements are "not well regulated" and that "many dietary supplements are contaminated with banned drugs not listed on the label." Finally, it urges student-athletes to "review the product with the appropriate or designated athletics department staff" before consuming a supplement.
A drug-testing FAQ on the NCAA's website states that the penalty for a positive drug test is "strict and automatic." Following a positive result, a student-athlete loses one full year of eligibility and cannot compete for a full season. Student-athletes can appeal a positive test.
Stacey Osburn, director of public and media relations for the NCAA, said she could not comment on an individual student-athlete's circumstances. Patrick Crawford of the Missouri athletics department also declined to comment on Copelin's suspension.
"This was a stupid mistake on my part, and I’m very sorry that I put myself and my team in this situation," Copelin said in a statement. "There’s nothing I can do except dedicate myself to representing me, my family, my team and Mizzou the right way going forward. I’m very grateful to my coaches and my teammates for giving me a chance to overcome this."
Missouri football, which dismissed star receiver Dorial Green-Beckham because of his alleged involvement in a burglary, is now even thinner at wide receiver for the coming season. Last year's three leading receivers have moved on: Green-Beckham is now at Oklahoma, and Marcus Lucas and L'Damian Washington have graduated and are pursuing NFL careers. That leaves seniors Bud Sasser and Jimmie Hunt as the most experienced returners; Sasser recorded 361 receiving yards and hauled in one touchdown, and Hunt tallied 253 yards and notched a score. As of July 7, Copelin was listed third at the "H" receiver spot on the depth chart.
“This is a very unfortunate situation, but one that Levi created for himself," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said in a statement. "He’s paying the price for this mistake, and I commend him for owning up to it and taking responsibility. Our strength coaches and trainers rely on our players to be careful of what they do on their own, and to always get approval from them first. We’re disappointed that Levi didn’t follow this guideline."
Copelin has had other issues during his time at Missouri. On Oct. 3, 2012, he and two other players, including Green-Beckham, were arrested on suspicion of marijuana possession. He was arrested again Jan. 23 for disturbing the peace.