NCAA Chief Medical Officer Tries to Bring Changes to College Sports’ Drug Policies

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)’s chief medical officer is trying to implement new drug policies that would bring increased oversight and consistency. Currently there is a wide variety in approaches among schools in how they deal with drug policy infractions, according to The Wall Street Journal.

For example, at the University of Florida, a player with a first-time steroid infraction would be benched for half the season, while the same infraction would cost a Texas A&M player only one game. At private schools such as Vanderbilt, drug-testing results are not shared with anyone, including the NCAA.

Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s first chief medical officer, wants to put the big five conferences, not individual schools, in charge of setting policy and testing for performance-enhancing drugs. He says when college teams conduct their own testing and give out their own punishments, it is an obvious conflict of interest. “The NCAA’s doping policy is outdated, and there needs to be more consistency among schools,” he told the newspaper. “There should be one policy and it should be transparent.”

Currently the NCAA conducts tests before some postseason games. On average, it tests at each school once a year, but not all players are tested. NCAA policy calls for a positive finding involving any drug to result in a six-month suspension. Hainline favors ending NCAA testing for marijuana and other recreational drugs, and encouraging schools to adopt their own deterrence programs.

Many schools have resisted efforts to increase oversight of their drug testing programs, the article notes. Incoming Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey says he thinks Hainline may be able to make changes in longstanding school drug policies.

Hainline, a neurologist at New York University, cannot make changes without approval from the schools that make up the NCAA.

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