Eastern to participate in NCAA drug testing study

Drug testing could potentially reach Eastern’s campus with a new pilot study the National Collegiate Athletic Association is implementing in Division III.

According to the NCAA website, the drug testing program was created to protect the health and safety of student athletes and to ensure that no one participant might have artificially induced advantages or be pressured to use chemical substances.

In hopes of treating all student athletes equally, the NCAA Presidential Council voted to establish the two-year study in August, to monitor the prominence of drug use in DIII.

“DIII is often forgotten about,” Head Athletic Trainer John Post said. “A lot is done on the honor code, but people still do things, intentionally or not, that are incorrect.”

Last year, a letter was sent to all schools in the division to discover interest in the study. Eastern was one of 150 schools chosen to participate.

The study consists of two different programs: a site for drug education only and one for both education and on-site testing. For purposes of confidentiality, Eastern’s part in the study will remain undisclosed.

For all campuses who participate, the NCAA has offered a $1,000 incentive that will be used towards building up the school’s drug education program. This money can be used in several different ways, such as bringing in special speakers.

While Eastern has a strong drug education program already for its teams, its participation in the pilot study requires some changes.

Typically, teams had to go through the drug education program, which consists of an informational video, an explanation of drug policies and several compliance forms, before they could begin practices for their given seasons.

However, with the study, all teams must participate in the orientation program each semester, regardless of when their season takes place.

In addition, athletes will need to complete a preseason and post-season substance abuse survey, provided by the NCAA. At this time, Eastern has yet to receive the survey.

The study will only last two years, but could change depending on the results. “It could either go back to the old way of randomly testing or make it that there is now testing at every DIII campus,” Post said.

If an athlete would test positively during the pilot study, no NCAA penalty would be assessed, but the athlete’s institution would be notified of the results. If such would occur at Eastern, Post said an athlete would lose eligibility to play for a full 365 days.

While most DIII athletes abstain from drug use and play for their own love of the game, the use of banned substances continues to grow in society, making the study necessary.

“The main purpose is to maintain the integrity of the NCAA DIII,” Post said.

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