Basketball pauses random marijuana testing, Congress passes a law hoping to give athletes a fair shake at the Olympics, and DHS wraps up 2020 with yet another Form I-9 extension. It’s all in this week’s EBI Screening News Update.
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have reached an agreement that will allow management to turn a blind eye to players’ marijuana use during the pandemic. According to a statement from league spokesperson Mike Bass, teams will instead turn their attention to weeding out performance-enhancing substances and more nefarious drugs like opioids.
The NBA actually became the first major North American sports league to start drug testing players back in 1983. This summer, they paused random testing while teams were “inside the bubble” at Walt Disney World. Before that, players were required to submit to four random tests every season.
The testing rollback will be in effect for the season that begins on December 22nd. The executive director of the NBA Players Association says marijuana is safer than other drugs players are often prescribed for their constant pain. Basketball is not alone in this shift. Major League Baseball removed marijuana from its “drugs of abuse list” a year ago. The NFL dramatically increased the amount of the drug a player can have in his system before considering it a positive test, and the NHL no longer punishes players for testing positive on random tests.
The most decorated Olympian in history says he doubts he ever competed against a completely clean field. American swimmer Michael Phelps still managed to walk away with 23 gold medals, but he recently said that, looking ahead to Tokyo, he believes only “four or five“ out of every 10 athletes will not be doping.
Phelps says that during his career, he was tested more than any other athlete to make sure he was not using performance-enhancing drugs and says everyone should be held to the same standard.
While that has not happened yet, the United States just made a bold move to protect our athletes. On December 4th, President Trump signed into law the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act which will allow the U.S. to impose criminal sanctions on individuals involved in doping activities at international sporting events. The bill is named for the doctor who helped expose Russia for doping its athletes. Now, it is up to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to give the new law teeth which may include fines up to $1 million and up to 10 years in jail. Experts say, if they implement the program quickly enough, it could have a positive effect on the Tokyo games this summer.
Back in March, when so many of us started working from home, the Form I-9 extension was one of the very first stories we reported. So, it seems fitting that we wrap up the year with an update.
When COVID-19 started shutting brick and mortar locations down, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) realized that employers needed a way to comply with the very strict rules for completing the Employment Eligibility Verification Form – or Form I-9.
Section 2 of the form requires employers to physically examine a new hire’s citizenship or visa documents within the first three days of employment. Since most employers were no longer hiring in person, DHS allowed them to temporarily view the documents by video, email, or fax.
At first, the policy only lasted for 30 days. Then another 30 days were tacked on, and another.
Now, the policy is extended through the end of the year. It only applies to employers who are not hiring in person. As soon as things go back to normal, there will be a limited time during which all of the documents that were reviewed virtually, will need to be examined in person.
Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.