Southern Cal athletic director Mike McGee disputed a published report that there is systematic cheating on drug tests by Trojan football players.

The Los Angeles Times, citing its own two-week investigation, reported Sunday that it had learned of a pattern in which some USC football players regularly cheated on their drug tests. Players reportedly devised elaborate schemes to substitute "clean" urine for their own and also by using masking drugs."Although we reject the notion that there is systematic cheating going on in our drug testing program - rather, the Los Angeles Times was drawing upon isolated incidents - we have formed a committee, including experts in testing from outside the university, to review the program," McGee said in a statement released by the school.

"USC has used medical technicians in sample collection. And in addition, when we heard that an athlete may have cheated, we assigned the department's drug testing administrator - Marvin Cobb, who is highly knowledgeable in all aspects of drug education and testing - to directly observe the collection of the sample for that athlete. He observed no cheating."

The Times began its investigation after former USC quarterback Todd Marinovich was arrested on Jan. 20 on charges of misdemeanor cocaine and marijuana possession.

At the time of his arrest, Marinovich was on indefinite suspension from the team for not registering for spring semester classes and missing a team meeting.

On Friday, Marinovich announced he will pass up his final two years of eligibility in order to make himself available for the NFL draft in April. Marinovich will be arraigned on the drug charges on Feb. 11.

Two days after Marinovich's arrest in Newport Beach, USC formed a task force to investigate drug testing at the school. The group, chosen by McGee, has yet to offer any recommendations.

McGee acknowledged in the article that he was alerted to a possible cheating problem more than a year ago.

"We heard in the fall of '89 that one of our athletes may have cheated on a test - not how it was done," McGee told the Times. "At that point, we put into motion what we thought were some extra precautions that involved, in addition to a technician, a university administrator to be an observer."

McGee also acknowledged that Marinovich's arrest was the impetus to form the task force. That concern was echoed by Cobb, assistant athletic director and the administrator of USC's drug-testing program.