You are here

CSMAS recommends NCAA drug classes reflect worldwide standard

Committee has urged each division to adopt legislation affecting drug classification

The NCAA’s banned drug classes may soon more closely mirror the prohibited list governing sports organizations around the world.

During a Dec. 11-12 meeting in Indianapolis, the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports voted to recommend legislation to each division that would amend the NCAA’s banned drug classes in order to reflect the prohibited list established by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The change would make the Association’s policies around banned substances more consistent with international standards. The committee recognized the scientific expertise underpinning the WADA code and prohibited list, and believed the change would reduce confusion among student-athletes who compete in both NCAA and international competitions.

“It was in the best interests to eliminate confusion that might occur with those student-athletes that are bound by both collegiate and international standards,” said LaGwyn Durden, CSMAS chair and associate athletics director for sports medicine at the University of Texas at Austin. “There can be some trepidation for student-athletes regarding which criteria they’re being held to. I think it was important for us to align with WADA.”

The realignment would cause several changes in the NCAA’s banned drug list. It would create a new class of banned drugs, the narcotic class, which would include heroin. Two other classes would be renamed: The illicit class would be known as the cannabinoids class, and would only include marijuana. The antiestrogen class would become the metabolic modulators class and would include all the substances that were in the antiestrogen class.

CSMAS made one exception to alignment with WADA: The committee did not include glucocorticoids as an NCAA banned drug class, believing that there is not an anti-doping function for the collegiate athlete population. Additionally, those substances are used routinely in sports medicine.

“If WADA should make any changes,” Durden said, “CSMAS has the ability to make the necessary adjustments determined to be pertinent to the health and safety of student-athletes.”

Committee reaffirms commitment to deter drug use

CSMAS issued a statement to NCAA members reaffirming its commitment to deterring banned drug use by student-athletes, and to encourage schools to use the NCAA Sport Science Institute’s Substance Abuse Prevention Tool Kit as a mechanism to support testing and intervention strategies on their campuses. The statement said that relying on drug testing at NCAA championships alone is not sufficient, particularly for deterring use of marijuana. Instead, the committee stated that deterrence requires a comprehensive approach that includes local intervention strategies on campuses throughout the year.

“This approach includes a strong written and communication policy, effective educational interventions, and therapeutic treatment as indicated,” the committee said in its statement. “In this model, (institutional) drug testing can be a valuable screening tool, as well as an effective deterrence strategy.”

Performance-enhancing drug penalty clarification proposed

To ensure that the intent of the NCAA’s penalty for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs is properly reflected in the Association’s legislation, CSMAS directed NCAA staff to perform a review of pertinent legislative language. The committee restated that the penalty’s intent is to ensure student-athletes testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs should sit out a full season of competition and lose a year of eligibility. CSMAS asked staff to determine if the legislation, as it is currently written, reflects that intent. NCAA staff will provide guidance to the committee as to any next steps.