Doping and Substance Abuse

CSMAS recommends drug-testing penalty change

The committee proposed a change to the language of the legislated penalty for use of performance-enhancing drugs.

CSMAS recommends NCAA drug classes reflect worldwide standard

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

Doping and Substance Abuse Data and Research

Collecting and analyzing data, and then using those data to make informed decisions, is central to what we do at the Sport Science Institute. We work closely with NCAA research staff in support of efforts that promote a safe and healthy environment for college athletes competing in all sports.

Located on this page is information about the SSI’s research efforts related to doping and substance abuse.

Doping and Substance Abuse Educational Resources

The NCAA Sport Science Institute is a leader in providing health and safety resources to college athletes, coaches, athletics administrators and campus partners. Together with leading medical organizations, behavioral health centers and content matter experts, the SSI provides educational resources for member schools to promote and support the health and well-being of student-athletes.

Located on this page are materials and resources related to the doping and substance abuse, organized by four main categories. 

Dietary Supplements

The NCAA Sport Science Institute hopes to foster a healthy and productive experience for college athletes. In addition to performance-enhancing drugs, alcohol and other recreational drugs, dietary supplements can be dangerous to a student-athlete’s health and may contain NCAA banned drugs. Supplements are not required to be tested for purity, effectiveness or safety before going to market. Also, their labels may not accurately reflect what’s in the bottle. Many student-athletes have lost eligibility for using a supplement they thought was safe, only to test positive because the supplement was contaminated with a banned steroid or stimulant.

High levels of caffeine and other stimulants may undermine athletic performance and negatively impact health.  Many supplements, including energy products and vitamin packs, may contain multiple sources and high levels of caffeine. Before student-athletes take a dietary supplement, they should consult with the sports medicine staff on their campus. In the end, student-athletes are responsible for any substance they put in their bodies.

APPLE Institute

The NCAA Sport Science Institute partners with the University of Virginia Gordie Center to sponsor the APPLE Institute, an annual three-day national training institute for student-athletes, athletics administrators and campus partners dedicated to substance abuse prevention and health promotion of college athletes. Participants learn how to apply the APPLE model within their athletics department to prevent student-athlete substance abuse and promote health and wellness. The SSI sponsors attendance for member schools to participate in the conferences.

Click here for more information on the APPLE Institute.

Alcohol and Other Recreational Drug Prevention

The NCAA Sport Science Institute hopes to foster a healthy and productive experience for college athletes. In addition to performance-enhancing drugs, alcohol and other recreational drug use can impact the health and well-being of student-athletes. The SSI encourages college athletes to be aware, ask questions, make safe choices and to stay healthy and drug free.

Performance-Enhancing Drugs

The NCAA bans the use of performance-enhancing and recreational drugs to protect the health of college athletes and to ensure fair play. The risks for student-athletes using these drugs are high; a positive drug test will result in loss of eligibility and suspension from sport, could negatively impact health, and in some cases, is just plain cheating.

Located on this page are materials and resources related to performance-enhancing drugs. 

NCAA Drug Testing Program

The NCAA drug-testing program, along with clear policies and effective education, protects student-athletes who play by the rules by playing clean. The purpose of the drug-testing program is to deter student-athletes from using performance-enhancing drugs, and it impacts the eligibility of student-athletes who try to cheat by using banned substances. The NCAA tests for steroids, peptide hormones and masking agents year-round and also tests for stimulants and recreational drugs during championships. Member schools also may test for these substances as part of their athletics department drug-deterrence programs.

To learn more about specific medications or supplements that may be banned substances, visit Drug Free Sport AXIS, (member login required) which provides up-to-date research on supplements and over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

NCAA CHOICES Alcohol Education Grant Program History

Prepared by David S. Anderson, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Education and Human Development, George Mason University
Evaluation Consultant, NCAA CHOICES Program

Three decades ago, the NCAA embarked on a journey inspired by a vision of helping college campuses reduce problems associated with students’ misuse of alcohol. Recommendations from the NCAA Foundation’s Alcohol Education Task Force in 1990 identified college-focused grants as a helpful strategy; this resulted in the CHOICES program. The unique role that athletics departments could play in helping influence the campus culture around alcohol was central to these efforts. Further, the view was that athletics departments and student-athletes could be instrumental in shaping positive messages about alcohol. The Anheuser-Busch Cos. provided initial funding and subsequent gifts to fund these campus grants. 

With experience at over 250 colleges and universities in all divisions, the CHOICES grant program is ending in 2022. Whether based in the athletics department (as one-third now are) or elsewhere on campus (wellness, student life or academics), the outcomes resulting directly from the CHOICES program have been quite positive. The lessons learned are worth sharing, as all NCAA schools, as well as other institutions of higher education, can benefit from the insights and recommendations from these varied and impactful projects. 

The following 10 items emerge from these CHOICES grants as ingredients for success and can be applied at any college or university seeking to affect alcohol misuse issues. 

  1. Build the campus effort based on local needs, issues and history.
  2. Have clear grounding in evidence-based practices, such as theoretical frameworks, best practices and local needs assessments.
  3. Promote collaboration across campus by identifying areas where different units have strengths; partner and enhance others’ efforts. 
  4. Actively engage students (student-athletes, student leaders or student organizations) in planning and implementation. Their voices resonate well as focus group participants, organizers, spokespersons and sponsors.
  5. Participate in the APPLE Training Institute. This helps campus teams get organized, create appropriate visions and prepare practical plans. 
  6. Be bold, creative and clear with marketing and communication, including awareness campaigns and public service announcements. Consider involving professional marketing personnel, class projects and student group competition for development. 
  7. Engage in quality planning and documentation, which helps with collective buy-in and aids with staff and student turnover. 
  8. Incorporate evaluation and metrics to review achievements and opportunities for improvement. Consider reviewing reduction of alcohol-related harm, increased bystander interventions, corrected misperceptions of knowledge, and enhanced confidence of coaches and others communicating about alcohol-related issues. 
  9. Engage others and use resources developed with CHOICES and elsewhere. Best of CHOICES reviewed these projects after 20 years, and the IMPACT Evaluation Resource aids with evaluation and planning. 
  10. Use leverage to achieve collaboration and visibility. The NCAA-based program provided substantive influence; leverage the CHOICES program’s history and successes, as well as dedicated campus or donor funding, to promote locally appropriate initiatives. 

Through working collaboratively with shared visions and thoughtful planning, athletics, student affairs, faculty and other campus leaders can harness positive influences in making a difference on the campus.

Additional resources and information may be found in the CHOICES Resources box on the right-hand side of the page.

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