Doping. Answers.

Summer Drug-Testing

Summer for student-athletes can be a huge temptation for experimenting with steroids to develop muscle and strength. Student-athletes who are, or have been injured, may look to steroids to shorten their recovery time and the drugs clear an athlete’s system before drug-testing resumes in the fall semester.  Often, athletes are not subject to drug-testing in the summer, so they believe they can clear traces of any banned– substance before they return to campus in the fall. 
The purpose of any drug-testing program is to deter use, protect the clean athlete, and ensure a level playing field.  Summer testing was an obvious expansion of the good and effective drug-testing program in effect during the fall and spring semesters and in 2006, Drug Free Sport began testing a random selection of Division I student-athletes during the summer.  The program has expanded to Division II with emphasis on football and baseball participants because they are at a higher risk for abusing performance-enhancing drugs.
Initially, there were many questions about how the student-athletes would be notified, what would happen if the student-athletes were not on campus, etc.  In reality, many student-athletes are on campus during the summer, taking classes, working out in facilities, or working in the local community.  Student-athletes also must fill out a form before leaving campus in the spring letting Drug Free Sport know where they could be found during the summer.
In the beginning, summer drug-testing was challenging for Drug Free Sport staff because collectors were traveling all over the country to conduct the tests. Some of the top baseball players were playing in summer leagues all over the country and Drug Free Sport staff had to find them.  Then Drug Free Sport developed a system, where they would send collectors to summer leagues where a variety of Division I and II student-athletes were located.  The collectors spent a week at a summer league focusing on their roster for the random testing rather than focusing on a particular institution.
One example of a successful summer league testing schedule involved the Cape Cod summer baseball league.  Testing at the Cape Cod summer league provides the opportunity to test ten teams in five days.  When the student-athletes show up for a game, they are notified that they have been selected for a random drug-test.  Testing at summer leagues demonstrates the flexibility of the summer program.  Drug Free Sport collectors still go to campuses, but the process is much smoother now that a fair number of the testing can be done where the student-athletes are clustered.
Since 2006, the number of student-athletes tested in the summer has increased each year. As schools have become used to summer testing and the Drug Free Sport staff adapted to it, they have been able to increase the numbers.
To inquire about our sport drug-testing services for your organization, please contact us by phone at 816-474-8655.

Beat The Summer Heat By Staying Hydrated

As temperatures begin to rise this summer, I think it's a good time to revisit the importance of maintaining proper hydration before, during and after exercise. Whether you are strength training in a gym or participating in a casual jog, it's important to make sure that you are consuming the right amount of water. This in turn, will help you perform at your highest level and will keep your body in a healthy state as you train. Here are a few tips to keep in mind this summer:

How much water should I be drinking?

- Due to variables such as heat, humidity, body composition and exercise intensity, it is very difficult to determine a universal amount of water that should be consumed by each individual. Since everyone is built differently, a simple way to make sure that you are staying properly hydrated is by checking the color of your urine. Whereas colorless or light yellow urine typically suggests proper hydration, dark yellow or amber-colored urine could be a sign of dehydration.

- According to the American Council on Fitness, the following basic water intake guidelines are suggested for individuals performing moderate-to-high intensity exercise:
  • Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before you start exercising
  • Drink 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start exercising or during your warm-up
  • Drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise
  • Drink 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise
What are some signs of dehydration?

- Dark yellow or amber-colored urine
- Nausea or dizziness
- Vomiting
- Muscle Cramps
- Heart palpitations
- Dry mouth or sticky saliva
- Mental confusion
- Weakness
- Loss of consciousness

Severe dehydration or heat illness can be very serious and sometimes life threatening. If you or a teammate experiences any of the above symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Are there any sites that I can check out to learn more about staying properly hydrated this summer?


As you continue your off-season workouts this summer, remember to eat right and stay HYDRATED. Proper hydration is one of the most important aspects of performing healthy physical activity and ensuring that your body is able to perform at its highest level.

Prescription and Over-The-Counter Drug Abuse

 You may remember the days of childhood. It was common to get a cold, flu bug, or other type of illness. Trips to the doctor were never fun, but you knew that the word medicine meant a way to get better. Medicine helped get over the illness and back to school, back to the playground, and back with your friends. You knew that a doctor was prescribing you with the medication to help you recover. However, as you get older, you start to realize that some people abuse these same medications.  According to, drugs that are safe and effective for use by the general public, without a prescription, are defined as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. These drugs are often located on shelves in pharmacies, as well as non-pharmacy outlets. A few examples include grocery stores, convenience stores, and large discount retailers. In the U.S., there are more than 80 classes of OTC drugs. These range from allergy medications, to pain relievers, to weight loss products. Some medications have psychoactive (mind-altering) properties and, because of that, they are sometimes abused. You could define abusing medications as someone taking a medication in ways or amounts other than what has been instructed in directions or by a doctor, or taken by someone other than the person for whom they are prescribed to. In fact, prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are, after marijuana (and alcohol), the most commonly abused substances by Americans, ages 14 and older. This is according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan, the most commonly abused prescription drugs are: opioid pain relievers, stimulants for treating ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and CNS (Central Nervous System) depressants for relieving anxiety. The most commonly abused OTC drugs are cough and cold remedies containing dextromethorphan.  Many people believe that prescription drugs and OTC drugs are safer to use than illicit drugs. This is only true when they are taken exactly as prescribed and for the purpose intended. When these prescription and OTC drugs are abused, they can become addictive and put abusers at risk for other adverse health effects. This includes overdose, especially when taken along with other drugs or alcohol. There is more than one way for prescription and OTC drugs to be abused. These include taking a medication that has been prescribed for somebody else, taking a drug in a higher quantity or another manner than prescribed, and taking a drug for another purpose than prescribed. We usually think of drug abuse issues as illicit drugs. However, licit drugs (legal for prescription) are a huge abuse issue. Whether they are being deliberately abused, or accidentally abused while taking them for a medical purpose, the results are disturbing.  People abuse over-the-counter (OTC) products to get high, zone out, hallucinate, etc.  Often times this abuse involves youth since these products are so readily available, either in the home medicine cabinet or simply for purchase. The importance of educating our youth about the risks associated with the use and abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs need not go overlooked. Some of the same “medicines” that we have come to lean on during periods of illness, can harm our kids, family, and friends.

Drug Abuse and Addiction

As a student-athlete, you may know of someone who is struggling with drug abuse and addiction. It may be a close friend, a teammate, classmate or family member. Substance abuse and addiction can cause problems in the classroom, on the playing field and at home. It can often times leave individuals feeling alone and helpless, a potentially dangerous combination. It is for these reasons, that it is important to have a good understanding of the signs and symptoms of drug abuse and addiction. Common signs of drug abuse and addiction:-          Skipping class or flunking class, missing practice, and neglecting other day-to-day responsibilities-          The use of drugs and/or alcohol during high risk situations (drinking and driving, before practice or a game)-          Mood swings (fights with friends and/or family members, partners)-          Legal issues (DUI, selling of drugs, possession charges)-          A built up tolerance to drugs-          Withdrawal symptoms-          Constantly thinking about drug use-          Understanding the risks of drug use, but continuing to participate-          Losing interest in sports, socializing and other hobbiesPhysical, behavioral and psychological warning signs:-          Deterioration of physical appearance, grooming habits-          Tremors, slurred speech-          Bloodshot eyes, larger than normal pupils-          Changes in appetite or sleep patterns-          Sudden weight loss or gain-          Always a need for extra money-          Acting secretive about everything-          Sudden change in friends-          Lack of motivation-          Anxious, fearful and paranoid-          Angry outbursts and easily agitatedRecognizing that you or someone you know has a drug abuse or addiction problem is the first step, and often the most difficult step, on the road to recovery. Seeking help and finding support is crucial to any addiction recovery, and it takes a tremendous amount of courage to recognize that you or someone you know may need help. If you feel that you or someone you know has an addiction problem, be proactive and contact any of the following individuals for support:-          Family member-          A close friend-          A therapist or counselor-          Your health care provider-          Your athletic trainer, coach and/or another administrator Always remember, you are not alone and there are individuals that are willing to help! For more information on drug abuse and addiction, please visit the following resources:

Challenging Student-Athlete Perceptions

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an adolescents perception of the risks associated with substance use is an important determinant of whether he or she engages in substance use. For example, youths who perceive high risk of harm are less likely to use drugs than youths who perceive low risk of harm. Thus, providing adolescents with credible, accurate, and age-appropriate information about the harm associated with substance use is a key component in prevention.

Social norms represent our perceptions of the behaviors and attitudes of others. Expectations about alcohol, marijuana, and other harmful substances can be powerful influences on behavior. Would you say most student athletes engage in the use of harmful substances? Would you say that most student athletes engage in alcohol, marijuana, or cigarette use? Our perceptions vary among individuals. Data from Prevention Strategies shows that 12.30% of student athletes use marijuana and 7.90 use cigarettes. The data that was provided validates that a very small percentage of student athletes are using tobacco products, marijuana, and alcohol.

Student athletes reported being drunk on an average of 1.4 times in the past 30 days. However, there were a range of answers on this question from 0 to 30 days and the most common answer was 0 days of getting drunk. This shows you that the perception should be shed in a positive light that most student athletes don’t engage in the use of harmful substances. You can also look at it from how you feel about teammates engaging in harmful substances. Out of 5,000 student athletes, 76.1% disapprove of their teammates getting intoxicated frequently.

Some other facts regarding alcohol may not surprise you. In a 2009 NCAA Study of Substance Use of College Student Athletes, overall (Division I, II, III), 83.1% of respondents indicated drinking within the last 12 months. This is factual evidence for both men and women. This is an increase from the 2005 study that showed 77.5%. This leaves the perception, and social norm, that there is an increase in young students engaging in alcohol use over the years. Only 12.6% of these students reported never using alcohol, 47% used alcohol less than two days per week, 54% indicated drinking during both their competitive and off season. The scary part about these statistics is that the majority of respondents indicated obtaining alcohol from a friend, family member, or teammate.

Student athletes are expected to be great at what they do. They are asked to maintain a high level of performance, both athletically and academically. All of this occurs under the constant scrutiny of coaches, teammates, fans, and media. Many problems start well before college and some escalate to levels that require intervention from coaches, parents, etc. Student athletes are different from the rest of the student population and because of their constant exposure and elevated status on campus, college student athletes are typically placed in situations that cause stress and anxiety.

Here are some examples of pressures that student athletes face:

· Balancing sports and academics

· Adapting to social challenges

· Success and failure on field and in the classroom

· Injuries

· Weight management

· Sports career ends due to injury or eligibility.

According to the Drug & Alcohol Addiction Recovery Magazine, coping strategies are tools for dealing with stress without returning to substance abuse. A coping strategy is a personal action plan. It identifies a particular stressor or trigger for substance use, includes an understanding of why or how that particular situation encourages an individual to use, and articulates specific physical and mental actions to counter this influence. It is highly recommended that individuals looking to avoid substance use should avoid places, people, and situations that are connected to their social challenges. Small things such as the time of day and music can also make a difference.

For example, if a recovering alcoholic returns to his favorite bar at night (his habitual time for drinking), sees all his old buddies drinking, and hears his favorite drinking song on the jukebox, his ability to avoid relapse becomes seriously compromised. The place, time of day, people and music are all triggering emotional responses that encourage him to drink. An effective coping strategy, in this case, is to avoid a situation that holds such strong triggers.

Student athletes need to realize that there will always be challenges you face in life. Athletes have a lot to lose. We see it all the time in amateur, collegiate, and professional athletics. There are harmful substances around us, people engage in them, but what will you do? What decisions will you make knowing the affects it can cause? The time will come when you will face challenging decisions. There are supporters around you; use them wisely and always remember that the decision is in your hands.

NCAA Championship Drug Testing

Drug-testing in the NCAA began in 1986 when testing at championship events began.  In 1990, it expanded to a year-round program in Divisions I and II and today, 90 percent of Division I, 65 percent of Division II and 21 percent of Division III schools conduct their own drug-testing programs in addition to the testing that occurs at the NCAA.  
Each year, approximately 13,500 samples are collected and analyzed through the NCAA's national drug-testing program, with the bulk of those tests focused primarily on performance-enhancing drugs (NCAA year-round testing). The NCAA tests at championship events in all three divisions at least once every five years and with some championships tested every year. During championship events, student-athletes are screened for steroids, diuretics and masking agents, stimulants, peptide hormones, anti-estrogens, beta-2 agonists, beta-blockers and street drugs. 
Recently, the NCAA’s Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CSMAS) voted to adjust the threshold for a positive marijuana test at NCAA championships to a level that is consistent with current best practices in drug testing, which will more accurately identify usage among student-athletes.
Beginning August 1, 2013, the threshold level for marijuana will change from 15 ng/mL to 5 ng/mL.  For years, Drug Free Sport has provided institutional clients the 5 ng/mL threshold in testing for marijuana.  Drug Free Sport has recognized testing at lower thresholds as a best practice for deterrence and we continue to provide our clients the best drug-prevention methods possible.
The CSMAS has also established a testing standard for synthetic cannabinoids (K2, Spice, etc.), which have not previously been tested for at NCAA championship events. The committee approved testing for those substances using the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) laboratory testing standard for level of detection.  Testing for synthetic cannabinoids will begin with the 2013 fall championships.
Drug Free Sport also has the ability to test for multiple metabolites of synthetic cannabinoids.  To learn more about testing for synthetic cannabinoids please contact Drug Free Sport at 816-474-8655.

Binge Drinking: Who is at risk and why should we be concerned?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), binge drinking is “the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States.” Visit almost any campus, on any weekend, and I would be willing to bet that you will find students and student-athletes participating in binge drinking. Let’s look at a few facts:-          Binge drinking is said to be more common amongst young adults aged 18-34 -          The prevalence of binge drinking among men is twice as much as women-          90% of alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinkingWe also know, according the 2009 NCAA Study of Substance Use of College Student-Athletes:-          83.1% of respondents indicated drinking within the year (male and female)-          47% of those reporting alcohol usage reported drinking six to ten plus drinks in a sitting (binge drinking)-          54% of the respondents indicated drinking both during their competitive and off season-          Student-athletes are at a higher risk for such behaviorsAs you can see, it’s no mystery that student-athletes are at risk for, or are participating in the act of, binge drinking. Alcohol consumption has been and continues to be an issue at the collegiate level. So what is “binge drinking” and why should we be concerned?Binge drinking is typically defined as, for men, consuming five or more drinks within a period of two hours. For women, four or more drinks within the same time period is typically classified as binge drinking. Some of the common issues that we see associated with binge drinking include:-          Memory issues – disrupting sleep cycles and prohibiting one’s ability to retain information. -          Hydration issues – decreasing the body’s state of hydration, which can be a real problem for student-athletes that are trying to perform at the highest level. -          Injury issues – poor food choices, dehydration and depletion of nutrients can all lead to injuries.-          Alcohol poisoning – always dangerous and can sometimes lead to death. -          High blood pressure, stroke or other cardiovascular issues – it can and does happen. -          Unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases – it can be prevented. As you can see, none of the above issues associated with binge drinking is conducive to a student-athletes career. It is our job as educators to make sure that student-athletes are aware of the risks associated with the use of alcohol, and in particular, binge drinking. There is no one method that is a cure-all to this issue, but here are a few links that may be helpful. myPlaybookExpert SpeakersPrevention StrategiesStudent-Athletes Speak Against Binge DrinkingAPPLE Conferences

Drug Testing: Life of a Student-Athlete

My name is Jarrett Sutton, and I am a former student athlete at the University of Missouri. While at Missouri, I was selected numerous times for random drug tests. The whole time thinking, “What is the point? I’m clean.” I also took part in our athletic department administered drug test we had to complete every year. Speaking from personal experience, all athletes hate to do a drug test. It’s time consuming, it’s a hassle, and you never want to be the person who gets randomly selected. After being at Drug Free Sport for a month, I can assure you that drug testing is vital in the protection of not only the sport, but the health and well-being of student athletes. Sure, it may be a hassle. But the reality is it’s important!
As a former student athlete, and as someone who participated in multiple random drug tests, I know first-hand what drug testing is all about. A drug test is not trying to punish student athletes, or trying to ruin an athlete’s athletic career. A drug test is conducted to keep the integrity of not only the sport, but the student athlete, intact. We are out to give all student athletes a fair playing field, where cheating and doping are banned at the highest level. We want the integrity of athletics to remain clean, and to protect the health of our student athletes for years to come. A work ethic, staying active with exercise, and promoting a healthy lifestyle are the tools to being the best athlete you can be. Cheating is a first class ticket to ruining not only a playing career, but life outside of sport. Drug Free Sport is here to protect the interest and integrity of what athletics are all about. With being an athlete come stress and pressures. As an athlete, at any level, we are pushed to perform at the highest level on and off the field. This sometimes pushes athletes to participate in drug, alcohol, and supplement use. It’s important to stay on track, keep a clear head, and always remember to do things the correct way.
Testing is a necessary and effective drug-use prevention tool to develop athletes who are committed to success on and off the field. Athletic participation is a privilege, and athletes cannot be allowed to abuse drugs at their expense, the expense of their teammates or at the expense of their sport. Research shows that most athletes are drug free. Therefore, we at all times treat athletes with dignity and respect. There are multiple resources around student athletes to go to for help. You have your coaches that can be a great resource to go to first. You can go to your athletic director for help, or in most cases, your athletic trainer who knows the harm alcohol, drugs, and supplement use has on your body.
The National Center for Drug Free Sport (Drug Free Sport™) is a company devoted to preventing drug abuse in athletics.  As the premier provider of drug-use prevention services for athletic organizations, Drug Free Sport provides strategic alternatives to traditional drug-use prevention programs.  More importantly, Drug Free Sport is a SPORT drug-use prevention companyUnlike traditional third-party drug-testing administration companies that conduct primarily workplace and insurance testing, Drug Free Sport works exclusively with sports organizations and their athletes. The National Center for Drug Free Sport, Inc. was founded in 1999 by Frank Uryasz, previously director of sports sciences for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Drug Free Sport was created because there was no national entity that focused on the specific needs of sports organizations. Many organizations tried to conduct their own drug testing, using inappropriate workplace models. Moreover, sports organizations needed specific, student-athlete targeted testing, as well as independent drug-testing program management.  Drug Free Sport has developed a number of programs to help institutions evaluate and implement effective policies. Our Speakers Bureau provides expert advice, pertaining to athlete safety and fair game, to student-athletes, athletics directors and athletic trainers.

10 reasons why drugs, alcohol and/or supplements are still an issue in athletics: Marijuana 101

Following up this week on our May 8th 2012 blog titled "10 reasons why drugs, alcohol and/or supplements are still an issue in athletics," we explore our first reason:
           "In a 2009 study, the use of Marijuana amongst NCAA student-athletes had increased by                nearly 2 points over a period of 4 years. 22.6 percent of respondents claimed to have used              Marijuana within the last 12 months."
This blog is titled Marijuana 101 and can be found on our myPlaybook blog at:
"Tell me and I'll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I'll understand."
-Native American Saying-

Introducing myPlaybook: Web-Based Drug and Alcohol Education for Student-Athletes

Drug Free Sport has partnered with Prevention Strategies to bring myPlaybook to colleges, universities, and high schools across the US. myPlaybook is a new, web-based, interactive drug and alcohol education program created specifically for student-athletes.


Prevention Strategies is a research company devoted to providing online education products that aim to prevent alcohol and drug-related harm among teens and young adults. With the support of the NCAA, PS created a program specifically for student-athletes. Over 5,000 current student-athletes have already completed myPlaybook, giving PS data showing the program works to change attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors related to alcohol and drug use.

Because of our involvement with drug testing and the NCAA, Drug Free Sport partnered with Prevention Strategies to make myPlaybook available to institutions across the country.

The Program

myPlaybook is an evidence-based program designed to prevent alcohol and other drug related harm. This interactive, web-based program engages students using state-of-the-art instructional design. There are two separate programs for college and high school. The collegiate program was created specifically for student-athletes. The high school program is designed for the general student population and also includes an extra component for those participating in athletics.

Pilot studies have shown that the program works, with student-athletes demonstrating immediate gains in knowledge of NCAA drug testing procedures and banned substances, negative alcohol expectancies, and negative marijuana expectancies. Over 83% of students felt they benefited from taking myPlaybook.

The core program covers:

• NCAA Banned Substances & Drug Testing
• Alcohol
• Marijuana
• Performance Enhancing Drugs/Dietary Supplements
• Tobacco
• Prescription/Over-the-Counter Drugs

Booster sessions are offered for students who have completed the core program. The boosters contain content that is new and applicable to student-athletes along with content that reinforces the core program. The REC will help choose booster topics based on the questions student-athletes are asking the most.

Want to know more?

You can learn more about myPlaybook by visiting the website (click here) or contacting Ryan Carpenter (816-474-8655). You can also Click here to sign up. Drug Free Sport can set you up with a full user account so that you can see the program the same way student-athletes see it or you can choose to receive a one-on-one tour from a DFS staff member and ask questions as you learn about the program.

10 reasons why drugs, alcohol and/or supplements are still an issue in athletics

1)      In a 2009 study, the use of Marijuana amongst NCAA student-athletes had increased by nearly 2 points over a period of 4 years. 22.6 percent of respondents claimed to have used Marijuana within the last 12 months. 2)      The NCAA reported a 5.6 percent rise in alcohol consumption since 2005, with 83.1 percent of respondents reporting drinking alcohol in the past 12 months. 3)      Nearly 4 percent of NCAA student athletes surveyed had used anabolic steroids, ephedrine or amphetamines at some point in time during their college career and 5 to 12 percent of male high school students had used anabolic steroids by the time they were seniors. 4)      Recent surveys have found that 1 in 9 high school seniors have used synthetic marijuana marketed as “K2” and “Spice” in the past year. 5)      Poison Control Centers operating across the nation have recently reported over 5,500 calls relating to synthetic marijuana as of October 31, 2011 (almost double the number received in all of 2010). There were also 6,138 calls in 2011 regarding exposure to “bath salts”, up from 304 in 2010. 6)      Tobacco use is still considered the #1 preventable cause of death in the U.S., yet during a survey of nearly 20,000 NCAA athletes (since 2005): a.       Over 8% of male athletes admitted to smoking cigarettes and close to 8% admitted to chewing tobacco in the last 12 months.b.      Nearly 7% of female athletes admitted to smoking cigarettes and close to 2% admitted to chewing tobacco in the last 12 months. 7)      Recent surveys have found that there are over 30,000 dietary supplements on the market and the industry is generating more than 26.7 billion dollars a year.8)      Dietary supplements are regulated under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994; under this act, it is up to the manufacturers to ensure the safety and accuracy of the ingredients listed in their dietary supplements before being marketed to the public. 9)      From studies on over 10,000 athletes, 46% of athletes admitted to using dietary supplements.10)   Several student-athletes have experienced side effects and/or died in the past year due to use of alcohol, drugs and/or dietary supplements. As data would suggest; drugs, alcohol and/or dietary supplements are still an issue in athletics. As adults and professionals, it is our job to make sure that we are educating our student-athletes and providing them with the tools they need to make healthy decisions when faced with the temptations of using these products and/or drugs. Tools like myPlaybook and the Resource Exchange Center (REC) can give student-athletes a better understanding of the issues surrounding drugs, alcohol and dietary supplements; all of which can help them make more educated decisions on a day-to-day basis. Over the next several weeks, we will explore in depth each of the reasons listed above for why I think the consumption of these products are still an issue in athletics. What are YOU doing for your student-athletes? Until next time…

My first week at Drug Free Sport: Dietary Supplements

Well… My first week at Drug Free Sport was anything but typical. I have been in the Anti-Doping industry for three years now, working primarily with collection protocols, field staff training and athlete testing plans. I have developed a solid foundation in the Anti-Doping movement, but have to admit that I feel like a rookie when it comes to the complex world surrounding dietary supplements, drugs, alcohol and other doping methods in sport. Barely scratching the surface on information related to the topics presented above now seems like an understatement after a week’s worth of work at Drug Free Sport. For instance, who would have thought that someone could make a dietary supplement out of the back of their car and sell it to consumers like you or I? Wait… What? dietary supplements that I’m putting into MY body could potentially be manufactured in the trunk of a car? According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, dietary supplements are regulated under the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). Under this act, manufacturers of dietary supplements or their ingredients “DO NOT need to register their products with the FDA nor get FDA approval before producing or selling dietary supplements” (FDA, Regardless, these supplement companies or manufactures have to be regulated at some point, right? Well that’s actually correct. These companies must comply with cGMPS, which means “Current Good Manufacturing Practices.” These practices are in place essentially for quality control purposes. They act as a measure to ensure that companies are processing supplements in a consistent manner and meeting standards. Under what the FDA calls the “Final Rule,” supplement manufacturers must adhere to the following conditions (not limited to these conditions): -          The design and construction of physical plants that facilitate maintenance-          Cleaning-          Proper manufacturing operations-          Quality control procedures-          Testing final product or incoming and in process materials-          Handling consumer complaints-          Maintaining records (FDA,
The FDA deploys inspectors to ensure these rules are being followed, but on average, only about 5 inspections take place during a given month. Just go to your local supplement store and see how many different supplements and manufacturing companies there on the shelves; 5 inspections a month doesn’t even make a dent!Taking this into consideration, how could a supplement that I put into MY body be created in the back of a trunk? Dietary supplements do not have to be approved, show effectiveness or be proven safe before being marketed, as long as they avoid health claims and ingredients that are not GRAS (I also, learned that this means Generally Recognized As Safe). The point is that dietary supplements are under-regulated and in some cases, we have no idea where these dietary supplements and their ingredients are coming from. I would recommend watching this clip from Dateline’s Chris Hanson on dietary supplements: ( It’s only been one week and I could go on and on about some of the things that I’ve learned thus far. If there is one thing to take away from my first week with Drug Free Sport, it’s that no matter how much I’ve learned in my three years of Anti-Doping experience, it’s not enough and every day brings new surprises!Until next time!

Why does the NCAA recommend against the use of dietary supplements?

Every time a student-athlete or a trainer asks us a question about a dietary supplement, we attach a standard warning, regardless of whether the listed ingredients are banned or not. Often, we are asked the questions, “why do you give this warning,” “what does it mean”, and “why do you suggest that student-athletes not use dietary supplements?” Below, is the standard warning we give, with an explanation of the statements.
“Products labeled as dietary supplements sold over the counter, in print advertisements and through the internet are under-regulated by the U.S. FDA. Whether a product is classified as a dietary supplement, conventional food, or drug is based on its intended use by the manufacturer.  Please be aware that some companies manufacturer dietary supplement and conventional food products*. Dietary supplements are at risk of contamination or may include ingredients that are banned under your drug testing policy.    Studies have found 12-25% of dietary supplements contain unlisted steroids, stimulants, or trace metals.” Why are dietary supplements at a risk for contamination? Consider these points, (1) Manufacturers do not have to prove the safety and effectiveness of a dietary supplement before it is marketed. (2)Manufacturing facilities are virtually unregulated, they are required to adhere to Current Good manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) , but  unfortunately only an average of 5 inspections take place a month (consider the total number of products sold today…thousands!) (3)  A number of company’s contract manufacture their products and leave the sourcing of ingredients to the contracted company.  So the true identity of the ingredients can be cut or changed without the parent company ever knowing.  This was solidified by the FDA’s Brad Williams participating in an education program at Supplyside West, and he said the number one issue with companies inspected under the supplement GMP program has been failure to adequately test ingredients for identity. 
“We cannot guarantee the safety or purity of any dietary supplement product. Also, the claims made by manufacturers may not be backed up with reliable, scientific research. Student-athletes take any dietary supplement at their own risk.” Without proper testing of the finished product, there is no way to know if the ingredients, and their amounts, listed on labels are correct. You could be getting too much, too little, or none at all of the so-called “active” ingredients. Remember, products do not have to prove their level of safety or effectiveness before they are sold. Often, the “research” a company cites is not reliable, has been done by a party that has interest in the success of the product, or is not scientific in nature. Below are a few tactics used by Supplement Company’s:·         Misrepresented clinical studies (results out of context, “University tested”, inappropriately referencing research results)·         False, exaggerated, or purchased endorsements (How much money is the athlete making for saying he takes a product?)·         Media distortion and false advertising (planted stories online, Company reps posing as local gym guy online in forums, “As seen on Oprah”)·         Omitting relevant Facts (Product marketed to men but all research done on women)
“The REC does NOT recommend the use of any dietary supplement or manufacturer; please submit all dietary supplement questions to the REC.” While we realize that not all companies are trying to dupe consumers or engaging in dishonest practices, there is no easy way to tell between the “good” and “bad” companies.
“Please be aware that some companies manufacturer dietary supplement and conventional food products.  Products produced in the same manufacturing plant or by the same company could potentially have contamination issues.” Be aware that we have no way to know for sure that a product labeled as a conventional food product but still manufactured by a dietary supplement manufacturer is 100% safe, unfortunately.  If a company is manufacturing meal replacement bars, and shakes, but also manufactures DHEA, you could have a potential problem.
“Remember to report all medications and supplements to your sports medical staff, no matter how insignificant you believe them to be, it could save your life.” Your sports medicine staff needs to know what you are taking, even if it is something as simple as a vitamin. Medications and dietary supplements could pose health risk for some if combined. Those in charge of your health need to know everything you take to give you the best care, especially in case of an emergency.
Again, we realize that there may be benefits to some dietary supplements and that not all manufacturers engage in dubious practices. However, our first commitment is protecting the health and safety of student-athletes. Lastly, we are dedicated to helping protect the integrity of sportsmanship in all sports, and at this time that includes not suggesting dietary supplements.

Where do you get your information on dietary/nutritional supplements?

We know that at least 69% of student-athletes purchase their supplements at their local retail store (2009 NCAA Study).

I can’t tell you how many calls we get that include the following statements, “The guy at the nutrition store told me I should take Product X. He said it would be fine to take and doesn’t have anything banned in it. He said it is safe.” We’ve discovered a trend; often times the sales clerk is wrong in his/her assessment of the product and really has no clue what impact the product will have on athletes health or eligibility. So where do you get your information on dietary/nutritional supplements? Do you turn to the person at the “nutrition” store or perhaps through a web search? Do you ask friends, coaches, or family members? Why do you ask these individuals for help?

Often, when we try to educate about a certain supplement and warn student-athletes about potential complications of use, we are asked, “how do you know?” We have had individuals demand proof that dietary supplements can be contaminated, or why a certain substance should or should not be banned. We are more than happy to provide proof and offer solutions that will help the athlete stay healthy, both on and off the field, but our question is, why do you not demand the same proof from those who suggest products to you? Do you ask the person at the nutrition store how they know the product will help you gain muscle? What is their expertise? Do you demand scientific evidence?

When you search online, do you research the manufacturer’s claims? Do you ask your friend how they know a product will work for you? Do you request their qualifications?

We are also aware of a lot of direct marketing. Companies selling Deer Antler Velvet, male enhancement products, etc., are sending emails directly to student-athletes. They may be using your name in the subject line and might even know your sport. In copies we have seen, they are telling you how great their product is, that it is safe, AND that it is NCAA “legal” or “approved”. This type of marketing personalizes the message to you. This helps gain your trust. Ask yourself, who are they? How did they get my name and email? What type of information are they giving me? What do they stand to gain? Is it worth my health and/or scholarship/career?

Our point is this: Don’t believe something just because someone tells you that it is true. The fact is, most dietary supplements are not backed by reliable, scientific evidence. They could be a waste of money, they could be harmless but ineffective, or they could be dangerous. With most products, there just isn’t enough information to make the claims that are made at “nutrition” stores, in direct marketing, or on the web.


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FDA reminder: Remember, FDA cannot test all products on the market that contain potentially harmful hidden ingredients. Enforcement actions and consumer advisories for tainted products only cover a small fraction of the tainted over-the-counter products on the market.

Dietary Supplement Q & A: What is considered a supplement?

If someone asked you, “Do you take supplements?” what would you say? What do you think of when you hear the term supplement? Do you think of those containers you see at the gym that are called things like Serious Mass, NO-Xplode, and Creatine? What about your multivitamin? The GU gel you take during training runs? How about the 5 hour energy shots you take before a game?

The answer to this question isn’t an easy one. After reading research on supplement usage rates, I was finding a wide range of answers and a wide range of products mentioned. A lack of understanding of the term “supplement” makes research on usage rates difficult. It is also challenging as we try to educate student-athletes on risks of supplement use, to both their eligibility and their health. To help you navigate through the murkiness, here are some definitions.

Dietary Supplement - As defined by the FDA , a dietary supplement is a product taken by mouth that contains a "dietary ingredient" intended to supplement the diet. The "dietary ingredients" in these products may include: vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, glandulars, and metabolites. Dietary supplements can also be extracts or concentrates, and may be found in many forms such as tablets, capsules, softgels, gelcaps, liquids, or powders. They can also be in other forms, such as a bar, but if they are, information on their label must not represent the product as a conventional food or a sole item of a meal or diet.

Nutritional Supplement – Any product intended to supplement the food diet. This can include multivitamins, protein powders, sports drinks and gels, etc. Anything that is not a traditional food can fall into the nutritional supplement category.

Cold Weather Hydration

We are constantly reminded in the summer months and early fall to stay hydrated, but It's easy to forget about hydrating when it's cold outside, you don't feel hot and sweaty and many don’t associate cold weather with dehydration.  Unfortunately the reality is you're still losing moisture, both through sweating (sweat evaporates quickly in cold, dry air) and breathing.  Yes, breathing… when you exhale the air from your lungs, you probably notice it in the form of a small cloud, that cloud contains moisture from your body.   Small levels of dehydration lead to significant decrease in physical and mental performance.  So as an athlete please remember to constantly monitor your level of hydration, and don’t wait until you fell thirsty to drink something, because this could be far too late.  The classic rule of thumb is to keep an eye on the color of your urine. Clear is ideal, less clear not so ideal and dark urine is bad and often means you're dehydrated.Tips to stay hydrated·         Drink something after waking up (milk, orange juice, water, etc…)·         Drink throughout the day (carry a water bottle to class)·         Drink even though you may not be thirsty·         Avoid energy drinks before practice·         Limit alcohol consumptionAugust 2010 blog on fall hydration Hydration Chart – June 2011

Methylhexaneamine – Q & A

Q:  Can my dietary supplement which includes Methylhexaneamine (1, 3 Dimethylamylamine also listed as geranium oil or plant) cause a positive drug test?  More specific, will it cause a positive for Meth?A:  We consulted with Clinical Reference Laboratory here in the KC Metro area and we discovered that Methylhexaneamine could cause a false-positive screen by immunoassay but would confirm as a negative sample after gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS).  So simply put, chemically it is not methamphetamine nor will it ever create amphetamine or methamphetamine in the body.  The chemical structure is too simple to begin with and the body cannot make it into something more complex.Methylhexaneamine is currently banned by most sport governing bodies including the NCAA and WADA under the stimulants drug class.   So Methylhexaneamine which is commonly found in weight loss preparations and pre-workout dietary supplements will cause a positive drug test for a stimulant.Below is a recent report published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, Vol. 35, April 2011.  The report explains more indepth how a positive drug test can be registered.

Four Tips for Nutrition During Injury Recovery

Most athletes have heard of RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), when it comes to injury recovery. But there is another aspect of injury recovery that many often forget - nutrition and diet. Are you eating to help your body recover? Read these four nutrition tips for injury recovery:

1. Remember that your activity level has decreased. You may put on weight if you eat the same portions you normally do as you are not burning as many calories. To keep your weight stable, pay attention to your caloric intake and stop eating when you aren’t hungry, even if you usually eat more.

2. Eat wholesome foods post injury to get the vitamins and minerals you need. Choose foods such as broccoli and spinach or citrus fruits, yogurt, lean meats and milk.

3. Be sure you are eating protein. If you have a diet lacking in protein, you are missing important nutrients, like iron and zinc, that can help healing. Eat a protein rich food at each meal.

4. The American Dietetic Association suggests getting plenty of the following nutrients to help the healing process: Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Zinc.

For more information on a healthy diet during injury recovery (or anytime), speak with a registered dietitian. You can find a sports dietitian in your area at

Handout from the American Dietetic Association

Steroid use and injury

When I first started working at Drug Free Sport, I read Dan Clark’s book, “Gladiator: A True Story of ‘Roids, Rage, and Redemption”. I have to admit I learned a lot about the effects of steroid use from his story. We often warn student-athletes of the dangers of steroid use, breast development in men, acne, aggressiveness, etc., but reading about them in first person was an eye-opening experience. It was also from this book that I was first introduced to the link between steroid use and injury, something I think many people often overlook. As an athlete, this link is essential, because one injury could derail your career.
So what is the link between steroids and injury and why should you be concerned? Often the increase in muscle mass and increased speed, seen from steroid use, is not always followed by equal increases in tendon, ligament, and joint strength. These imbalances, along with rapid weight gain, increase the risk of injuries. Explosive movements already put an athlete at risk for injury, but can be made worse when the supporting elements around muscles aren’t trained or ready for these movements at such high speeds with so much muscle mass.

A study published in 2009, by The American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, found that self reported anabolic-androgenic steroid use was significantly associated with self-reported, medically diagnosed joint and cartilaginous injuries in comparison to non-users. These injuries included; disc herniations, knee ligament/meniscus injury, elbow injuries, stingers, spine injury, and foot/toe/ankle injury. It has also been suggested that the increase of tendon and ligament injuries in baseball is due to steroid use. Read more.

While more research is needed, the link between steroid use and injury is another risk added to a long list adverse effects.


Self-Reported Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids Use and Musculoskeletal Injuries: Findings from the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes Health Survey of Retired NFL Players. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: March 2009 - Volume 88 - Issue 3 - pp 192-200