Georgia offensive lineman Kolton Houston has finally been cleared to play by the NCAA after being suspended by the NCAA in 2010 for testing positive for a banned substance, according to the Associated Press (h/t USA Today).
Houston's reinstatement came on his 22nd birthday, a good bit of news for a player who has fought an arduous three-and-a-half-year battle to be able to play college football.
The whole saga started in January 2010, when Houston tested positive for the banned substance 19-norandrosterone. The problem was, Houston had a perfectly good reason for it being in his system: Doctors had prescribed him a steroid injection to help heal a shoulder injury in high school.
The NCAA rejected Georgia's appeals that the legitimate prescription of the steroid before he came to the school should override his one-year suspension. Furthermore, the substance kept showing up in his system on further drug tests in levels over the NCAA-allowed minimum, which resulted in the NCAA giving him a lifetime ban.
Unfortunately for Houston, the steroid had become trapped in his fatty tissue, meaning that he continued to test positive even though he hadn't had any subsequent injections after the one in high school that started the whole ordeal.
The University didn't give up though. According to Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the school's director of sports medicine, Ron Courson, tirelessly appealed the NCAA's decision, providing regular tests the school had conducted on Houston proving that there had been no further steroid use, despite the continued elevated levels.
The NCAA refused to provide immediate reinstatement, but agreed to reinstate him once his levels reached the NCAA-approved threshold. After trying a number of different things to reduce the levels, including surgery to remove the contaminated tissue, Houston's perseverance finally paid off.
His latest test showed his levels to be below the threshold, leading to the NCAA reinstating him on his birthday.
UGA and Kolton Houston both deserve a lot of credit for this, as they fought tirelessly to overcome a very frustrating situation. It is unknown how Houston will fit into the depth chart currently, but for now, the school is just happy to have him back on the field.
And Kolton Houston is just happy to finally have the chance to play college football.