Not long ago we blogged about the suspension of two Oregon football players and how their punishment might have caused the team to lose the national title. Now the NCAA says it needs to review its drug policy and entire approach to drug testing.
Oregon’s running back, Ayele Forde, and wide receiver Darren Carrington were suspended after failing an NCAA drug test at the Rose Bowl. Both tested positive for marijuana and were subsequently banned from the championship game. Their team crashed and burned. Of course, we can’t say with 100% certainty that Forde and Carrington’s presence on the field would have changed the outcome, but it’s reasonable to wonder.
One of the biggest issues regarding these failed screenings is that the NCAA uses a threshold that is stricter than any other sports league. Players testing with the same levels of the drug in their system in the NFL, MLB or even the Olympic Games would have been allowed to take the field. A press release on NCAA.org raises the question as to whether the organization should even be testing for illicit drugs at all because they “do not provide a competitive advantage.”
The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports has recommended policy changes that include more testing for performance enhancing drugs while simultaneously moving towards more educational efforts to stem the use of substances like marijuana. The committee pointed out that after nearly 30 years, drug testing hasn’t been the deterrent many hoped it would be. According to NCAA surveys of college athletes, roughly the same percentages of them are using recreational drugs as when they started testing in 1986. A negative consequence they found was that student athletes who lose their eligibility because of recreational drug use are more likely to drop out of school. Committee members’ suggestions on how to revamp the system will be presented to the NCAA members as a possible legislative change. There is no timetable for this yet, but it is out there.
We would love to know what you think. Is a shift away from testing and towards more education the way to keep college athletes clean? Feel free to email us your thoughts!
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