LSU’s women’s team to vacate NCAA title

The LSU women’s track and field team has been ordered to vacate the title and return the trophy it won at the Division I NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, in June.

LSU officials announced Friday afternoon that the NCAA vacated the title because of a student athlete’s use of a stimulant commonly found in over-the-counter nutritional supplements but is banned by the NCAA and other sports organizations.

According to a university news release, senior sprinter Semoy Hackett tested positive for the stimulant Methylhexaneamine during the NCAA Championships held at Drake University.

Methylhexaneamine, an extract from the geranium plant, was identified on the NCAA’s published list of banned substances beginning with the 2011-12 athletic season, LSU coach Dennis Shaver and school officials said.

According to RunnersWorld.com, Methylhexaneamine is a compound found in nasal decongestants, but has been banned by many professional sports bodies as a performance-enhancing substance.

Also used as a dietary supplement, its side effects include a heightened sense of awareness and energy, and it can mask fatigue levels.

Top-ranked LSU won the team title, its 15th NCAA outdoor crown to go with 11 indoor championships, by outscoring third-ranked Oregon, 76-62.

“It’s unfortunate the team will be required to vacate the NCAA Championship due to the actions of one individual, but we will certainly comply with the NCAA’s instructions in this matter,” Shaver said in the news release. “We support the policies the NCAA has set to promote fair competition.

“This is disappointing news for the LSU track and field program, but our hard work and pursuit of excellence will continue on and off the track.”

A native of Trinidad & Tobago, Hackett scored 10 individual points when she finished third in the 100 meters with a time of 11.33 seconds and was fifth in the 200 meters final in 23.31 seconds.

Hackett was responsible for another 21/2 points when she ran the second leg on the Lady Tigers’ winning 4x100-meter relay team that took the title in a time of 42.75 seconds.

“I’ve been informed I tested positive for a banned stimulant at the NCAA Championships last year, which has resulted in the LSU team vacating the NCAA Championship,” Hackett said in the news release.

“I want to express my apologies to my coaches, my teammates, LSU and our fans.

“Although this was unintentional, I’m deeply sorry this will have such a negative impact on my team and LSU.”

Shaver held a meeting to inform his team while the announcement was being sent out via email.

He said afterward his athletes were disappointed with the forfeiture of the title — which would have been LSU’s 32nd national title in the sport, counting six championships won by the men’s team.

“Much like Semoy, it’s certainly disappointing to the other athletes that this happened,” Shaver said.

“It’s disappointing because to the others because of the sacrifices they made to win the title. They did a great job in representing what we are all about as a program, and that (disappointment) is to be expected.”

In addition to having the team title taken away from them, Takeia Pinckney, Rebecca Alexander and Kimberlyn Duncan, who joined Hackett on the 4x100 relay, will have to forfeit the awards they received for winning that title.

Shaver said it’s athletic department policy that any supplement used by a student-athlete must be approved by the school’s training staff.

“I’ve always been a person who completely supports fair play,” he added. “There is a system of checks and balances for athletes who take over-the-counter supplements. But in this case, it wasn’t sought out (from the trainers).”

He said LSU learned about the positive test in late June, and that university and athletic department officials had been working since then with the NCAA to reach a decision in the case.

“While we are disappointed as a University, we respect the decision of the NCAA in this matter,” LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said in the news release.

“We have a proud athletic tradition at LSU, particularly in the sport of track and field. We will continue that championship tradition as we move forward.”

LSU is not subject to any NCAA probation or penalties, Shaver said, and because the title was vacated, Oregon will not receive the championship trophy and will still be recognized as the runner-up.