NCAA drug testing goes above and beyond that of MLB


The MLB drug testing policy has been under scrutiny for years.

And with the alleged steroid use of New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez, sports fans are tearing it apart even more.

But what about the NCAA drug testing policy?

The NCAA has two testing programs. The year-round testing program randomly selects schools and players to be tested for performance-enhancing drugs only. NCAA also has a postseason testing program, which randomly selects schools or individuals who advance to postseason play and tests them for performance-enhancing and street drugs.

But the NCAA can not do this alone, which is why every school has a site coordinator who works in conjunction with the NCAA.

Meet Phil Voorhis, assistant athletic director for sports medicine and athletic training. Voorhis will conduct urine samples of players randomly selected and coordinate with Kishwaukee Community Hospital for more testing.

If a player tests positive for a substance included in the NCAA drug tests, a one-year suspension follows.

But athletes at NIU also have to deal with NIU’s substance abuse policy. Athletes are selected randomly or by reasonable suspicion.

“If you get in the paper for getting in a bar fight, that’s reasonable suspicion,” Voorhis said.

NIU has a three-strike policy for testing positive under their program. An athlete’s first positive test results in a conference call with parents and a referral to a counselor. An athlete’s second positive test results in suspension for 25 percent of the season. If an athlete gets strike three, he or she will no longer wear a Huskies uniform.

But there are constraints on these tests. Voorhis said he has a budget of $3,500 per year for drug testing. A standard drug test looking for street drugs costs about $40 per player. A drug test looking for performance-enhancing drugs costs between $150-200.

“When it comes to performance-enhancing drugs, we’re going to test players with reasonable suspicion, because we just can’t afford testing everyone,” Voorhis said. “So if someone’s putting 50 pounds more on their bench press or showing the side effects, we’ll give them the test.”

While MLB has questionable results in its drug testing methods, the NCAA has not received the same terrible reviews with its testing policies.

NIU baseball head coach Ed Mathey thinks the NCAA does all right with its testing given the circumstances. He credits informing student athletes about PEDs to preventing use.

“I think it’s as good a testing you’re going to get if you think about the environment of what’s being invented and manufactured,” Mathey said. “We try to educate, inform and monitor it as best we can. We’re with the kids enough to where we can see things develop out of the norm.”