Drug testing program shows 15 Auburn athletes violated policy in 2014-2015

AUBURN, ALA. 

Auburn had 15 student-athletes flagged for violations of the university’s drug policy in 2014-2015.

A review of the annual report submitted to the university’s committee on intercollegiate athletics obtained by the Ledger-Enquirer through a FOIA request show 1.4 percent of the 1195 tests administrated last year from August 1 to July 31 were positives for illegal substances.

The 17 positive test results were for violations of the drug policy involved 15 student athletes. The majority of the violations were for marijuana (15) while one was for amphetamines and another for opiates.

A total of 135 athletes tested positive for banned substances, but 118 of the positive tests were for prescribed medications and not considered violations of the drug testing policy.

Auburn adheres to the NCAA’s banned substance list, which in 2014-15 included stimulants, anabolic agents, diuretics and street drugs.

While the NCAA conducts limited year-round testing and testing at championship events, each school is responsible for their own institutional drug-testing program and determining penalties. The NCAA issues a set of recommended guidelines of universities to follow.

Auburn’s annual report includes a detailed breakdown of the positive test results going back to 2003-04. The highest percentage of failed drug tests came during the 2012-13 academic year (29 positives, 2 percent). The number of illegal positive tests was less than one percent three times in the last 12 years.

Specific information about the student-athletes including what sport he or she plays was withheld to prevent violators from being identified. Portions of the written report are also redacted in order to protect athletes’ anonymity.

The stated goal of the program is to collect 1,000-1,500 samples per academic year. The number of tests an individual athlete has to submit varies, but according to the report athletes can expect to be tested three to four times per year.

Auburn director of sports medicine Joseph Petrone conducts annual drug education sessions to review the rules and regulations with all of the university’s student athletes.

Petrone also works with teams individually to address what the report describes as “current issues.”

Auburn’s drug policy goes back two decades, but was most recently modified in 2014.

“There were some clarifications made to the categories of drugs and a slight modification to the penalty structure,” faculty chair of Auburn’s Drug and Alcohol Education and Testing Program Randall Clark said in May.

The penalty system expanded from three to five tiers with points being assigned for each failed test (one point for marijuana and synthetic Cannabioids; three points for other banned substances).

If a student-athlete tests positive for marijuana, they are subject to a one-year probationary period. Any further positive tests result in loss of playing time starting with 25 percent of the competitive season.

A player receives a permanent loss of his or her playing status at five points.

Clark is the faculty member responsible for preparing the annual review of Auburn’s drug testing program.

The SEC doesn’t currently have a uniform drug policy for its member schools. A spokesperson for the conference declined comment on whether universities are required to submit annual data for review.

“SEC schools are currently subject to their own institutional drug testing program and the NCAA’s drug testing program,” SEC director of communications Chuck Dunlap said. “The SEC would not be able to offer further comment at this time.”