LSU athletes drug tested more than NCAA requires
BATON ROUGE - In light of numerous unconfirmed reports of LSU football player allegedly testing positive for synthetic marijuana, turns out, the athletic department's substance abuse policy tests for more than the NCAA requires.
The NCAA forces universities to randomly test each athlete at least once a year, then again before championship and bowl games, and as a follow-up on any positive tests. According to LSU's student handbook athletes are tested twice a year.
The complete list of banned substances according to the NCAA includes everything from steroids, heroine, PCP, marijuana and cocaine to ephedrine and even certain doses of caffeine. LSU ups the ante by testing for synthetic marijuana.
According to an ESPN report, the NCAA banned synthetic marijuana back in August. In the report the NCAA said testing for synthetics has yet to start because the labs aren't equipped to perform the tests. And even if a student-athlete were to test positive for synthetics, the player doesn't necessarily face NCAA punishment. Those punishments are left up to the university.
LSU's substance abuse policy spells out student-athlete violations and consequences as a "Zero Tolerance" approach. If a player tests positive for any of the NCAA banned substances including synthetic marijuana, the head coach is notified, the player may be required to attend drug treatment classes, and the player could be re-tested.
For a second offense, a player is suspended for up to 15 percent of counted games, and a third positive test carries a suspension for one year.
The NCAA's drug testing and anti-doping policy is a bit different. Athletes that test positive are declared ineligible for the rest of the season and post-season. The suspension ends one year after the positive drug test. With a second positive test, players are suspended for a second year.
The reluctance of the NCAA to require synthetic marijuana testing may boil down to price per player.
Since 1988, Accuscreen Systems in Baton Rouge has provided quality drug testing for local companies looking to screen their employees. General Manager Chevis Hughes said most companies do not screen for synthetics because the drugs are relatively new and it's more expensive.
"Being that [synthetic marijuana] is against the law here in Louisiana, if an institution falls under that states law, it would be up to that institution to come up with whatever drug testing policy that want to implement. And depending on what they want tested, it can be expensive," Hughes said.
The common drug screen consists of testing five groups and will run a company about $35: opiates, marijuana, amphetamines, heroine and PCP.
The more drugs companies test for the more expensive it gets. Hughes said to test for everything on the NCAA's banned drug list, it would cost anywhere from $300 to $400 per player.
Synthetic marijuana is illegal in less than 20 states. However in March the Drug Enforcement Agency banned the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana for a year.