Oregon wide receiver Darren Carrington, front, pulls away from Florida State defensive back Trey Marshall to score during the second half of the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015, in Pasadena, Calif. (Jae C. Hong, The Associated Press)

NCAA drug testing knocks two Oregon players out of national championship

DALLAS — Oregon was forced to bench two players because of failed drug tests days before the team competes in the first College Football Playoff title game, the latest hit to a roster already depleted by injuries.

Wide receiver Darren Carrington and running back Ayele Forde did not travel with Oregon for Monday’s national championship game against Ohio State after each failed NCAA-mandated drug test. Carrington tested positive for marijuana; the results of Forde’s test weren’t disclosed.

The players were tested before the team’s Rose Bowl appearance, a person with direct knowledge of the tests told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of student privacy rules.

The NCAA conducts random drug testing for championship events and bowl games. Those tests can be done before or after an event and the school is given no notice about how many players will be tested.

A failed test for recreational drugs results in the NCAA requiring the school to declare the player ineligible. The penalty for a failed test is 50 percent of a season, which means Carrington could miss up to five games next year. The national championship would have been Forde’s last game.

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Not having Carrington leaves the Ducks down two key wide receivers against Ohio State. Carrington, a 6-foot-2, 191-pound redshirt freshman, had seven catches for 166 yards and two touchdowns in Oregon’s Rose Bowl victory over Florida State.

It is not the first time a player at Oregon has faced allegations of marijuana use. Back in 2012, a report in ESPN The Magazine estimated that between 40 and 60 percent of Oregon players used marijuana — which was blasted by then-coach Chip Kelly as inaccurate.

The state approved a measure last fall that legalizes certain amounts of the drug for recreational use. However, that law does not take effect until July 1, and Oregon maintains an aggressive drug policy for its student athletes, which includes random testing. The program has not indicated that would change with legalization.

“I think the biggest thing, from our standpoint, is there’s no study from a student athlete-type perspective that (marijuana) is a positive in any way,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said at a news conference the day the measure passed.

Though legalization efforts also have succeeded in Washington state and Colorado, the NCAA maintains its policy against positive tests for drugs, including marijuana, at championship events. Schools in those states have also maintained drug policies for athletes.

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