On Sept. 1, the new Saint Vincent College drug education and testing policy for student athletes went into effect. The policy requires that students acknowledge and agree to its terms before they can compete in any NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) sport.
In accordance with the new policy, student athletes are subject to randomized drug testing throughout the entire academic year. Students who produce a positive test for a banned NCAA substance or illegal substance will face disciplinary consequences which include, but are not limited to, suspension from team practices and games, counseling and additional drug testing. Three failed tests will result in the student’s removal from Saint Vincent College’s athletic teams.
“The policy is to benefit student athletes’ safety while practicing, training and competing, and to make sure our athletes are as healthy as possible when participating in athletics,” Susan Hozak, associate athletic director, said.
The drug tests will be administered by a professional, third-party provider and are separate from NCAA testing. All NCAA banned substances will be tested for. Drug tests may also be issued when there is reasonable suspicion that a student athlete has taken a banned substance.
While the athletic department promotes this policy in the student athlete’s best interest, not all students share a similar view.
“I think the policy is more for publicity. It looks good for the school. If it were really for the students, the policy would be there primarily to help, not punish,” an anonymous member of the men’s soccer team, said.
The athletic department expressed its concern for student athletes who unknowingly consume banned substances that may be found in common health and nutrition supplements.
“I’m not sure what is illegal or even what is in the protein and pre-workout I take. I didn’t think I would have to worry about what kinds of supplements I was using when I work out,” the same anonymous source said.
Becky Pizer, director of athletic training, expressed the importance of knowing what the students are exposed to, so that the team physician may help injured and ill student athletes receive the best available medication without having to worry about potentially contraindicated substances causing harm.
In addition to the previously mentioned disciplinary sanctions, a failed test will be reported to the director of athletics, associate director of athletics, the dean of students, the head coach, the director of wellness and the counsel of the college.
“[The policy] is not meant to be a punishment,” Hozak said. “We’re here to serve student athletes to the best of our ability as athletic and health care administrators.”
Concerned student athletes may self-refer for substance abuse help if they knowingly used a banned or illegal substance. Self-referrals do not protect the athlete from NCAA administered drug tests even though their participation eligibility is not at risk.
Student athletes who have questions should visit the National Center for Drug Free Sport Resource Exchange Center website at www.drugfreesport.com, or contact Hozak.