Jan 29, 2015
NCAA Releases Drug Use Study

Twenty-four percent of college athletes who use steroids are certain that their coaches know they use them, and 21 percent say their coach, athletic trainer, or team physician supplies the drugs. Those findings are part of the most recent NCAA Study of Substance Use Habits of College Student-Athletes, released in its entirety in April. Conducted every four years, the study polls students across all NCAA divisions. Twenty thousand athletes responded to the most recent survey.

The good news, however, is that overall steroid use fell from 1.5 to 1.2 percent between 2001 and 2004. The NCAA attributes declining use to successful education programs for student-athletes, but urges better steroid education for coaches who may be turning a blind eye.

Continuing a decade-long trend, amphetamine use increased during the four-year period, from 3.2 to four percent. Division III athletes reported the highest level of use at 4.6 percent. Among amphetamine users, 31.9 percent said they take the drugs, which include Ritalin and Adderall, to combat Attention Deficit Disorder. However, there is concern that athletes with prescriptions are passing amphetamines along to teammates. Nearly 7.5 percent of users say they take amphetamines for a performance boost, and 27.9 percent take them to increase energy. Softball players reported the highest rate of amphetamine use, at 5.2 percent.

Consistent with previous years’ data, most athletes who reported using amphetamines, steroids, and other ergogenic drugs said they began using them in high school. More than half of steroid users began using the drug in high school, compared with 35 percent who started in college and 14 percent who started prior to high school.

A new drug testing policy is in effect this summer, as the NCAA seeks to close a lingering window of opportunity for athletes to use drugs—the summer months. Athletes in Divisions I and II are now eligible for random testing in June and July. All sports are eligible, but this year’s focus is on Division I baseball and football.

According to the National Center for Drug Free Sport, which conducts drug testing for the NCAA, five to 10 athletes from each team are being randomly selected for testing this summer. If the selected students aren’t on campus, drug testing collectors, spread around the country and even abroad, will visit their homes or workplaces. Athletes who test positive will lose their eligibility for one calendar year.

The 2005 NCAA Study of Substance Use Habits of College Student-Athletes can be viewed at: www.ncaa.org/library/research/substance_use_habits/2006/2006_substance_use_report.pdf..

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