Pubdate: Tue, 21 Jun 2011
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2011 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Jack Carey


The number of college athletes testing positive for marijuana at
postseason events nearly tripled in the NCAA's most recent analysis.

Though the association says it's too early to draw conclusions from
the finding, one anti-doping official says it raises concern. The
number of positive marijuana tests across all three divisions
increased from 28 in 2008-09 to 71 in 2009-10.

Although the positives represent less than 3% of the total samples
tested by the NCAA, the increase worries Travis Tygart, CEO of the
U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which is the national anti-doping
organization for the Olympic movement.

Tygart said with medical marijuana use on the rise and increased calls
in some states for legalization of the drug, more positive tests for
athletes are not surprising.

"It's a fear we've had that as marijuana and even some
performance-enhancing drugs become more socially acceptable that
athletes will think it might be acceptable within sports," he said.
"Sports have a totally different set of rules in place to provide a
level, healthy, safe environment for athletes. Even if the use was not
criminal or was for medicinal purposes, sports are unique and are
supposed to present human competition at its finest."

College athletes are subject to NCAA-mandated drug testing for
marijuana at NCAA championship events and football bowl games only,
although most drug testing conducted by individual schools during the
year includes marijuana. Results of testing for 2010-11 are not yet

"It's too early to tell if this is a one-year spike or indication of a
larger problem," NCAA spokesman Christopher Radford said. "The NCAA
Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sport,
which oversees the drug-testing program, is aware of the increase and
is monitoring the issue ."

The current NCAA-testing policy requires that athletes testing
positive sit out one full season and lose a year of eligibility.
However, sanctions levied by individual schools that test can vary.
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