El Reno police search for source of OU linebacker Austin Box's drugs

The El Reno Police Department is continuing to investigate the May 19 death of University of Oklahoma linebacker Austin Box in an attempt to determine the source of the prescription drugs he consumed.
BY RANDY ELLIS rellis@opubco.com Modified: July 13, 2011 at 8:54 am •  Published: July 13, 2011
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“As I recall, there wasn't anything odd about the phone numbers, text messages or anything like that,” he said.

“Nothing odd stuck out to us — no known numbers of concern that I'm aware of and definitely no text messages that would indicate either by code or direct talk that they were setting up a time to pick up pills or drop off pills or anything like that.

Craig Box said he also reviewed his son's cellphone logs and found mostly numbers of friends and family members. He said there was one number he had suspicions about that he would like to see checked out.

Athletic injuries

Meanwhile, Austin's death has raised questions about how university athletic departments help athletes deal with painful injuries.

Kenny Mossman, spokesman for OU athletics, said the university has great confidence in certain physicians and will refer athletes to those doctors when athletes are injured.

It's up to the athletes to decide whether to go to those physicians or doctors of their own choosing, he said.

“Most will accept a referral,” he said. “At that point, the doctor and the athlete establish what would be a fairly normal patient-doctor relationship. If there is a prescription medicine required, the physician writes that and deals directly with the individual as they would any other patient.”

Mossman said doctors use their discretion in advising patients how much pain they should endure while continuing to play.

“I know ours historically have been very cautious on that front, and you rely, of course, on the athlete, as well, to give you a good idea of what they are experiencing,” he said.

Because of doctor-patient confidentiality, it is up to the athlete to decide how much information about medications or other treatment to disclose to OU personnel, he said.

OU and most athletic programs have drug testing programs, Mossman said.

All OU athletes are randomly tested during their competitive seasons, and at least 20 percent are tested during the off season as well, he said. They are given a maximum of 24 hours notice of drug tests and sometimes much less — such as being pulled out of practice for testing.

The NCAA and Big 12 Conference also do random drug checks on athletes at championship events, he said.

Counseling is offered to any athlete when a need is detected, he said.

“What occurred with Austin is a rare circumstance,” Mossman said.

Read the medical examiner's report
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