All-American linebacker Brian Bosworth of Oklahoma, whose punk haircut, earring and outrageous comments made him a national celebrity, has been barred from playing in the Orange Bowl because traces of anabolic steroids were found in his system.
Two of Bosworth's Oklahoma teammates, offensive guard Gary Bennett and defensive tackle David Shoemaker, both non-starters, also were declared ineligible by the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. for the same reason, a university spokesman, Mike Treps, said Thursday.
The three tested positive in urinalyses that the NCAA ordered to be given this year for the first time for players participating in bowl games.
Earlier this week, the NCAA declared Jeff Bregel, USC's two-time All American offensive guard, ineligible for the Citrus Bowl after he tested positive for steroid use.
Also, Arkansas outside linebacker David Dudley will not play in the Orange Bowl for the same reason.
Word of Oklahoma's involvement came as the third-ranked Sooners arrived in Miami, where they will play Arkansas on New Year's night.
The three Sooners named by the NCAA did not accompany the team.
Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer said he knew Bosworth had taken steroids and had warned him about the new NCAA rule barring their use.
"I talked to him in January about the new rule," Switzer said at a Miami airport news conference. "I knew they took steroids to be bigger and stronger.
"They knew they would be tested at the bowl site. They knew what the repercussions would be. They knew that they would be ineligible."
Bosworth's father, through a family spokesman, said his son told him he had not taken steroids since last March.
"What happened was that Brian was in the university hospital earlier this month with a stomach disorder," Foster Bosworth was quoted as saying. "He was dehydrated, and the medication he took must have brought out the fact he had taken steroids months ago. Brian was told that steroids can show up a year after it is taken."
The elder Bosworth said his son, a fourth-year junior who was with his family in the Dallas area for Christmas, would go to Miami and give his side of the story. There was no indication of how the incident might affect Boswell's decision on whether or not to turn professional next season.
Switzer said the three players had two urine tests and turned up positive for steroids both times. The tests were conducted by the UCLA Medical Center.
The coach said he had known two days ago that Bosworth and the others would not be allowed to play.
"It's a shame for a player of that caliber to miss out on the game," Switzer said. "But the rule is the rule, and Oklahoma intends to abide by it."
Switzer said his players told him it had been several months since they took steroids, adding, "I believe the athletes."
The coach said he suspected some players might have used steroids but was unaware of any specific use and "certainly not during the football season."
"I certainly rather it be steroids than cocaine or marijuana," Switzer said.
Oklahoma has been giving drug tests to its players since the preseason. Bosworth, who recently won the Butkus Award as the top linebacker in college football, has been outspoken in his support for the testing program.
"I have a little bit of a strange image and people think, 'Hey, he's a football player, acting like that, he has to be on something,' " he said in an interview earlier this year. "I am here to prove you can be different and still be straight."
A Stanford offensive tackle, John Zentner, is another player suspended from a bowl, in this case the Gator Bowl, because he tested positive for steroid use.
Zentner, a sophomore, said earlier this week that he took 2.5-milligram tablets of Anavar twice a day for about 3 1/2 weeks last summer.
He said he was stunned when he was told of the results of the drug test.
"I couldn't believe it," he said. "My first reaction was to question the test. No way was that going to stick with me. Such a small dosage. So long ago. I didn't believe it was still in my system."
Steroids, a manufactured strength hormone, add bulk to the body, but they also have health risks, including causing heart problems.
"I talked to a lot of pro athletes, college athletes and coaches," Zentner said. "A lot of them told me that if it was done correctly, and in a small dosage, it wouldn't be a health risk and I could get a little edge (on opponents)."
Oklahoma's Bennett, reached by telephone at his parents' home in Evergreen, Colo., said he feels the decision is discriminatory and that he is in the process of appealing.
Bennett, a sophomore, said his family physician prescribed steroids for him last May while following arthroscopic knee surgery and that blood tests he took at Oklahoma recently had been negative. He said he took the steroids for a total of six weeks following the surgery.
"My doctor said the drugs will not make you gain a lot of weight; they are just for rehabilitation of the knee," he said.
"I had no qualms about taking the test for the NCAA. Then this showed up in the final sample.
"I don't think it's right. I think it's discrimination against football players. Anyone else can go to a doctor and get a prescription for the same kind of rehabilitation. That drug is OK for anyone else. It's a very common drug for knee rehabilitation and there was no other reason for taking it.
"All I know is why I took them. It was not to go out on a football field and be bigger, stronger and faster than anyone else.
"I'm 6-foot-4 and weigh 260 pounds. That's what I weighed when I graduated from high school."