Since the NCAA is not a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code signatory, it conducts its own in-house anti-doping program. A student-athlete who tests positive for banned substances faces a loss of eligibility that could put their athletic career and education at risk, which is why it’s crucial that you contact an experienced NCAA anti-doping lawyer to guide you through the appeals process.
Substances That Are Banned Under NCAA Anti-Doping Rules
NCAA anti-doping rules group banned substances into the following classes:
- Anabolic agents
- Alcohol and beta blockers (banned for rifle only)
- Diuretics or masking agents
- Peptide hormones, growth factors, related substances, and mimetics
- Hormone and metabolic modulators
- Beta-2 agonists
Student-athletes who use dietary supplements should know that these products are often not well-regulated and can potentially cause a positive test result. They are encouraged to only use products that feature the NSF Certified for Sport logo, which verifies that any product with its designated “Certified for Sport” mark does not contain any of the 280 substances banned by major athletic organizations.
If a student-athlete tests positive for a medication on the banned substance list that has been prescribed by a doctor to treat a legitimate medical condition, their school can request a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE). For example, a student-athlete taking ADD medications such as Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) or Ritalin (methylphenidate) will not be penalized for an anti-doping violation if they qualify for a TUE.
Drug Testing Rules for Student-Athletes
NCAA rules allow for student-athletes to be tested for steroids, peptide hormones, and masking agents year-round. Students-athletes may be tested for stimulants and recreational drugs during championships. Member schools may also test for these substances as part of their drug deterrence programs.
The selection of tested student-athletes can be random or subject to criteria related to sport, position, competitive ranking, athletics financial-aid status, playing time, directed testing, or any other NCAA-approved selection method. Student-athletes who are currently ineligible due to a positive drug test or a breach of protocol can be tested for banned substances at any time during their period of ineligibility.
How Samples Are Collected
A Doping Control Officer (DCO) must follow strict rules to ensure that samples are collected, transported, and stored in a way that prevents tampering or contamination. Samples should be split into A sample and B sample containers to provide a safeguard for secondary testing if the A sample returns a positive result.
The student-athlete, DCO, or their designee, and any participating permitted witnesses will sign the custody and control form to indicate that the procedures were followed as described in the Drug Testing Program document.
What Happens After a Positive Test?
If you've been accused of an anti-doping rule violation, your eligibility and financial aid are at risk. Our NCAA anti-doping attorneys can provide guidance, evaluate your case, and help you navigate the legal processes involved.
If sample A returns a positive result:
- The laboratory director or certifying scientist will review and verify the results.
- Using specimen barcode numbers, the lab will communicate all analysis results to the NCAA-designated drug-testing agency.
- The agency will use the barcode to notify the director of athletics and/or their designee at the applicable member institution within 45 days of specimen collection.
- The student-athlete will be notified of options for B sample testing.
- No additional specimen analysis will be permitted if the B sample tests positive. The student-athlete will be ineligible and withheld from all intercollegiate competitions.
- The institution will have two business days from receiving the positive sample B findings to notify the NCAA-designated drug-testing agency of the student-athlete’s intent to appeal. The student-athlete will remain ineligible pending the outcome of the appeal.
Student-athletes who violate NCAA anti-doping rules can lose one full year of eligibility for their first failed drug test for a performance-enhancing drug and be withheld from competition for 365 days from the date of the test. An athlete who receives a second positive test can lose all remaining eligibility.
A positive test for cannabinoids can result in a loss of eligibility for 50% of the season in all sports in which the student-athlete participates. For a second offense, the athlete can lose one year of eligibility and be withheld from participation for 365 days after the date of the test.
Breach of Protocol Violations
A positive test result is the only way you can receive an anti-doping violation. NCAA athletes will be treated as if they’ve tested positive for a banned substance if they:
- Fail to arrive at the collection station without a legitimate reason
- Do not provide a urine specimen according to collection procedures
- Leave the collection station without authorization from the DCO before providing a specimen
- Act in a way that alters the integrity of the collection process
Tampering with a specimen via urine substitution or other related methods can also result in a loss of eligibility when the incident is supported by student-athlete admission, clear observation, or other highly irrefutable evidence.
Is There an Appeal Process for NCAA Anti-Doping Violations?
The NCAA provides an appeal process that allows you to present your case as well as supporting evidence to an appeals committee to explain why you deserve a reduced period of ineligibility or not to be sanctioned at all.
In some cases, athletes may have the opportunity to work towards reinstatement of their eligibility by going through a compliance and reinstatement process. This typically involves meeting certain requirements and demonstrating a commitment to clean sport. For example, the athlete may need to show evidence of seeking help for substance abuse issues, participating in counseling or treatment, and maintaining sobriety as part of their reinstatement efforts.
Do You Need to Speak With an NCAA Anti-Doping Lawyer?
When it comes to anti-doping rule violations, you can’t afford to take any changes. If you’ve been accused of violating the rules laid out in college athletics, you need to retain an experienced NCAA anti-doping lawyer as soon as possible.
At Global Sports Advocates, we are devoted to the very specific practice of sports law and will work tirelessly to defend both your athletic career and your education. Call us directly at +1-207-747-5899 or fill out our online contact form to schedule an initial consultation.