A fundamental principle of collegiate athletics is fairness. To help enforce this principle, the NCAA and its member institutions conduct drug testing programs. These programs are meant to prevent NCAA student-athletes from using any substances that are illegal or are not approved for use during competition. Any substance that enhances performance or could be harmful to the student-athlete can be considered an illegal substance. If you are facing an NCAA drug testing violation, then it is important to speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
What Substances are Banned by the NCAA?
The following substances are banned by the NCAA and cannot be used by student-athletes:
- Anabolic agents
- Alcohol and beta-blockers
- Peptide or other growth hormones
- Beta-2 agonists
- Metabolic modulators
Any substance that is deemed to be chemically related to any of the substances listed above is also banned by the NCAA. It is not always obvious whether an illegal substance is present. NCAA student-athletes have tested positive for banned substances by using nutritional or dietary supplements without first reading the label describing the ingredients. Vitamins and other supplements are not well regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and could result in a positive test if you are not careful. The NCAA subscribes to Drug-Free Sport AXIS as the final authority as to whether a supplement contains any banned substances.
When Can a Medical Exception Apply?
When a banned substance is used for a legitimate medical purpose, a medical exception can be granted by the NCAA. Most all of the listed banned substances can be given a medical exception. Any cannabis-related products are not eligible for review for a medical exception from the NCAA. So, regardless of your state's marijuana laws, or whether you are a medical marijuana patient, you cannot be granted a medical exception to permit marijuana use of any kind.
If a student-athlete plans to seek a medical exception for a banned substance, then any alternatives that don't include a banned substance should be first considered. For a medical exception relating to an anabolic agent, peptide, or any growth or hormone modulator, a student-athlete must first receive approval from the NCAA before participating in any competition.
If a student-athlete plans to seek a medical exception related to a stimulant, narcotic, diuretic, beta-blocker, or beta-2 agonist, then an institution should maintain medical records, including history, dosage, and a prescription. The student-athlete, in this case, can compete unless the NCAA withholds them from competition and requires a medical exception to be granted.
The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports medical panel reviews all requests for medical exceptions and determines whether an exception should be granted. If the banned substance connected to a positive drug test result is not given an exception by the NCAA, then the institution can appeal the decision.
NCAA Drug Testing Policies
The NCAA has wide-ranging authority when it comes to drug testing. Any student-athlete who has tested positive for a banned substance can be tested at any time. This can include being tested at championship games or other places where testing is conducted. All student-athletes competing in Division I or II athletics are subject to drug testing all year-round. There are several reasons why a student-athlete can be chosen to drug test, including the type of sport, position, or competitive ranking, among other factors.
A student-athlete who is eligible for year-round testing will not be selected to test if he or she:
- Is no longer with the team
- Has no more eligibility remaining
- Has graduated
- Has a medical exception
- Has withdrawn from school
Student-athletes in the final year of their athletic eligibility are subject to being drug tested by the NCAA.
Drug Testing and Eligibility
Every academic year, all student-athletes must sign a drug-testing consent form allowing the NCAA to administer drug testing to the student-athletes. If a student-athlete fails to sign an NCAA drug-testing consent form, then the student-athlete will be ineligible to participate in practice or competition in any intercollegiate sport. Any student-athlete that tests positive for a banned substance is subject to being declared ineligible to participate in intercollegiate athletics. If a student-athlete breaches protocol, then they will be treated as if they tested positive for a banned substance. Breaching protocol can include not appearing to test, failing to provide a urine sample, or any other activity that attempts to alter the integrity of the testing process. NCAA bylaws govern all athletes participating in Division I, II, or III sports.
Proper Handling of Drug Test Specimens
Doping control officers are the main people in charge of collecting and handling drug test specimens. When a student-athlete enters a specimen collection station to drug test, he or she will first select a sealed beaker and attach a unique barcode to it. The student-athlete will be directed to wash their hands and will provide a urine sample into the beaker while the doping control officer observes.
Once an appropriate specimen has been provided by the student-athlete, the doping control officer will then split the specimen into vial A and vial B. Once everything is sealed, the student-athlete, the doping control officer, and any witness present will sign an athlete custody and control form. This form ensures that all of the collection procedures were properly followed. The doping control officer will then deliver the specimens directly to the testing lab or to the mail carrier. The lab then must confirm whether the specimens arrived intact and sealed before proceeding to test them. If there is a break in the seal or chain of custody, then another sample will need to be collected.
If a student-athlete tests positive for a banned substance, then that student-athlete can appeal the finding through his or her institution to the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CSMAS). This committee is made up of 22 members who include coaches, athletics administrators, faculty, and student-athletes, among others.
If a student-athlete wishes to appeal a positive drug test, then they must request their institution to do so on their behalf. A notice of intent to appeal must be filed by the institution within two business days of the drug test result confirmation. All appeal documentation must be filed by the institution within 45 days of the notice of intent to appeal. If the appeal is denied, then the student-athlete will continue to be ineligible for athletic participation. If an appeal is granted, then the student-athlete must pass an NCAA administered drug test before returning to competition. All appeal decisions are final. If you have legal questions about NCAA drug testing, then call attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm so we can help!
Why Hiring the Lento Law Firm is the Right Choice
If you are facing an alleged drug violation at your university, then you likely realize the potential impact that a finding of responsibility can have on your athletic and academic career. When facing a challenge like this, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have successfully represented hundreds of student-athletes across the country facing disciplinary actions and other challenges at their schools and universities. Call us today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring the Lento Law Firm is the right choice to fight allegations involving NCAA drug testing issues.