August 27, 2016 by
http://www.ncaa.org/static/champion/why-is-that-a-...
What’s the rule?
The NCAA bans eight different classes of drugs, from stimulants to diuretics to street drugs. Testing takes place at NCAA championships, plus year-round on campus in Divisions I and II. The penalty for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug: one full year of lost eligibility for the first offense. All remaining eligibility is lost with a second positive test.
For street drugs such as marijuana and heroin, where intervention and counseling are considered more important than penalizing the user, a student-athlete must sit out a half-season of competition. A second positive test for a street drug results in the loss of a year of eligibility and withholding from participation for 365 days from the test.
How did that become a rule?
The NCAA first tested for drugs in November 1986 at the Division I Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships in Tucson, Arizona. Championships testing gradually expanded to include year-round testing on Divisions I and II campuses, often as a supplement to an athletics department’s own drug-testing program.
Why does the NCAA care?
Through the National Center for Drug Free Sport, the NCAA tests for drugs for a number of reasons. First, drug use can threaten the goal of protecting college athletes’ health and safety, one of the tenets that led to the Association’s creation more than 100 years ago. Performance-enhancing drugs also jeopardize the integrity of the competitions themselves, allowing one athlete an unfair advantage over another. The testing program is one part of an NCAA drug-use deterrence program, which also includes an education program that teaches college athletes about both the health consequences of drugs and what happens when they break the rules.
Will it always be a rule?
In recent years, NCAA member committees have reconsidered the Association’s role in monitoring street drugs such as marijuana and heroin. Based on the recommendations of the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports, which oversees the drug-testing program and is made up of physicians, a sports psychologist, athletic trainer and other experts, the three divisions recently reduced the penalty for a positive street drug test from one year of eligibility to half a season. The reason: Data showed losing a year of eligibility led many of the offending students to drop out of school. The committee continues to examine recreational drug use policies and will consider future recommendations in this area.