NCAA Drug-Testing Procedure and Rules: Important Information for All Student-Athletes

Leaders of Evolution is an organization dedicated to the success and leadership of student-athletes. In partnership with the NCAA, we also want student-athletes to understand and abide by the rules and regulations, including those relating to the NCAA drug-testing program. Following the drug-testing procedure and rules are extremely important qualities of a good leader in sports and will lead to a successful future.

The NCAA drug-testing program’s goal is to “protect student-athletes who play by the rules by playing clean.” As a proud partner of the NCAA, Leaders of Evolution also abides by these rules and encourages students to not use performance-enhancing drugs or other banned substances. We provide online courses and hub partnership programs which are great resources to help improve student-athletes development and leadership skills. 

NCAA Drug-Testing Procedure & Rules

NCAA Drug Testing | Leaders of Evolution
SU vs Boston College (Photos by Michael J. Okoniewski-SU Athletic Communications)

When student-athletes use performance-enhancing drugs or other banned substances, they risk being eligible for their respective NCAA sport. The NCAA drug-testing program wants to ensure that all student-athletes are participating fairly and are not given advantages by these substances. Under the drug-testing procedure and rules, student-athletes are tested for steroids, peptide hormones, and masking agents year-round. 

The NCAA is allowed to test all student-athletes at random and at any point during the year, even the off-season of an athlete’s respective sport. In addition, the NCAA drug-testing procedures and rules state that students must also be tested for stimulants and recreational drugs during championship games. The NCAA has created a culture that does not tolerate drug use by their student-athletes. Schools and conferences are also suggested to regularly test their students for drug use through their individual athletic programs. 

NCAA Drug-Testing Program 2020-2021

In 1970, at the NCAA Convention, the NCAA established the Drug Education Committee. This committee was tasked with educating students on drug use and tried to discourage student-athletes from using these substances. 

It was not until 1986 and 1990, where proposals were approved that would monitor and govern the use of banned substances by student-athletes in the NCAA. At first, the proposal only required student-athletes to be tested at their championship games and postseason bowl games. However, as the drug use problem among student-athletes increased, the NCAA announced that drug-testing would be year-round and random for all student-athletes. 

Each year, the NCAA releases a PDF and pamphlet that fully outlines their drug-testing procedure and rules. This program releases a new edition for each school year and provides updates on the NCAA banned substances list, the drug education guidelines, and the NCAA drug-testing program in general. 

Within the 2020-2021 issue, the NCAA explains the drug-testing procedure and rules. Student-athletes will be tested via urine collection and laboratory analyses for illegal substances. 

Banned Substances List

The NCAA Board of Governors is responsible for approving which substances will be placed on the list of banned-substances each year. Along with the list of substances, the Board of Governors also restricts the methods by which student-athletes may use these substances. For example, blood and gene doping local anesthetics, manipulation of urine samples, and beta-2 agonists are all methods restricted by the NCAA drug-testing program. 

Also, the NCAA warns that there are some nutritional and dietary supplements that may result in a positive drug test. For example, vitamins and minerals that are not well regulated may cause student-athletes to receive a false-positive test. However, all student-athletes are held responsible for their drug test and may experience a loss of eligibility. 

Below is the current list of banned substances classes:

  1. Stimulants
  2. Anabolic agents
  3. Alcohol and beta-blockers (banned for rifle only)
  4. Diuretics and other masking agents
  5. Narcotics
  6. Cannabinoids
  7. Peptide hormones, growth factors, related substances and mimetics
  8. Hormone and metabolic modulators
  9. Beta-2 agonists

NCAA Drug Usage Education

NCAA Drug Testing | Leaders of Evolution
The Tar Heels huddle on the field just before playing Oregon State. University of North Carolina Men’s Soccer v Oregon State Fetzer Field Chapel Hill, NC Friday, September 2, 2011

Under the NCAA Drug-Testing program, all of the member schools and universities share the responsibility to test their student-athletes for drug use. However, they are also required to provide educational opportunities and training to prevent student-athlete drug usage. Therefore, in July 2013, the NCAA created the NCAA Doping Drug Testing and Drug Education Task Force. This task force would work beside the NCAA Drug Education committee (established in 1970) to not only educate student-athletes on the drug testing procedure and rules but also educate them on the importance of not using these drugs. 

Since these proposals, universities have also taken upon the responsibility and created mandatory drug usage workshops and programs for all student-athletes. In total, the NCAA spends over $6 million per year on drug-testing procedure and education efforts. 

Consequences of Positive Drug-Tests

When a student-athlete receives a positive test result, meaning that at any time, they are found with a banned substance in their system, that student-athlete will face the consequences in terms of sports eligibility. For the first positive drug test for a performance-enhancing drug, that student will lose one full year of eligibility. This means that for 365 days after the date of their positive drug test, they will not be able to participate in any respective aspect of their sport. This includes pre-season, off-season practices, regular practices, games, and postseason competitions. 

However, if a student tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs a second time, that student loses all remaining eligibility for that sport. Also, if a student-athlete is randomly selected for NCAA drug-testing and does not show up or participate, they will receive the consequences as if their results were positive.

However, the NCAA does give the option for member institutions to repeal the positive test on behalf of a student-athlete. The NCAA takes the drug-testing procedure and rules very seriously as this is a serious violation of the protocols and student contract. When student-athletes are applying to the NCAA athletic programs, they must sign the Compliance Manual, which states that they will not use any NCAA banned substances. 

Leaders of Evolution

As an e-learning education provider, Leaders of Evolution is dedicated to helping student-athletes understand the NCAA drug-testing procedure and rules. We also have no tolerance for student-athletes who use banned substances or other performance-enhancing drugs. Instead, our online programs and courses will give students the knowledge and resources to succeed without drug use. 

Leaders of Evolution believes that a strong team leader will put the team’s interests in front of their own. A true leader will not risk their eligibility and participation by using banned substances. Instead, a true leader will abide by these rules and encourage their teammates to do the same.

Have questions? Email us at [email protected]

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Leaders of Evolution are passionate about education. We expertly design and deliver technology enhanced e-learning courses focused on leadership, social and emotional learning, career readiness and sports coaching for students, teachers, athletes, coaches and the wider community.

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Rachel Richards

Interested in sports communication and digital media. Rachel loves to travel with her family, and go to concerts and music festivals with her friends. She is always interested in discovering local coffee shops and drinks tea with every meal.


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