NCAA News Archive - 2008

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Division III delegates receive early drug education/testing pilot report

Jan 15, 2008 1:37:04 AM

By Jack Copeland
The NCAA News

Early testing in Division III's drug-education and testing pilot program has produced higher percentages of positive tests for street drugs than other substances, though program administrators strongly caution that the results are only from the first half year of a two-year program and the pilot has not yet measured any effects of educational efforts being conducted at all participating Division III institutions.

In testing last fall involving 437 student-athletes at 22 Division III schools, 7 percent of the student-athletes tested positive for street drugs (primarily marijuana) and 6 percent tested positive for stimulants. Positive rates for other substances were considerably lower, with one-half of 1 percent (0.5 percent) testing positive for diuretics and two-tenths of 1 percent (0.2 percent) testing positive for anabolic steroids. Student-athletes who fail to report for testing also count as positive tests; 0.7 percent of the student-athletes were recorded as "no shows."

The results were reported Monday during the Division III business session at the NCAA Convention.

The purpose of the pilot is to evaluate whether education alone can deter drug use by student-athletes, or whether testing is needed, too.

"I want to emphasize that we're only about a quarter of the way through the pilot," said Mary Wilfert, NCAA associate director of education services. "So far, we've actually tested nearly 900 Division III student-athletes at 46 schools, but the results we're reporting are from 437 completed analyses."

Before the pilot concludes at the end of the 2008-09 academic year, the NCAA will conduct testing at approximately 80 Division III institutions, which also will administer drug and alcohol education programs for student athletes. Another group of approximately 20 institutions will provide education only, and researchers will use surveys to measure how education -- with or without testing -- impacts substance use among Division III student-athletes. A third group of approximately 15 institutions is conducting its own testing in combination with education.

Wilfert said it is too early in the pilot program to draw meaningful conclusions, but did put the initial testing results in some context by comparing them to substance use that has been self-reported by student-athletes in the periodic NCAA drug use survey.

Of nearly 6,500 Division III student-athletes who completed the most recent survey in 2005, more than 25 percent reported they  has used street drugs during the year before answering the query. One percent reported they had used anabolic steroids. Wilfert said more student-athletes typically self-report substance use than test positive in the NCAA drug-testing program.

Division III currently conducts drug testing only at championships. Divisions I and II conduct year-round testing on member schools' campuses, in addition to testing at championships. The early results reported to the Division III members were obtained from the first tests conducted during the fall semester at campuses of Division III members. Some of the schools will experience repeat testing during the spring semester.

Student-athletes who test positive during the pilot program are not penalized. Between 16 and 20 student-athletes are being tested at participating schools for performance-enhancing and street drugs.

An interim report from the pilot is planned this fall. Division III ultimately could consider a variety of options after the pilot ends, including extending NCAA funding of education, supporting testing conducted by institutions, extending the pilot to include another group of institutions, or establish a division-wide education and testing program on a mandatory basis

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