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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

College Athletes Medical Marijuana

More and more college athletes are testing positive for marijuana use than ever before, which is not all that surprising considering the surge in medical marijuana programs throughout the country. Marijuana is not the same as an athlete taking human growth hormones (HGH) or anabolic steroids; however, the new trend is a major concern amongst college sport programs. USA Today reports that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has found that the number of college athletes who test positive for marijuana at postseason events has almost tripled.

Positive marijuana tests across all three divisions rose to 71 in 2009-10, from 28 in 2008-09 and according to the report the positive tests represent less than 3 percent of all samples tested by the NCAA. The rise in dirty drug tests concerns the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the national anti-doping organization for the Olympics. Tavis Tygart told the newspaper that the increase does not shock him considering the increase in medical marijuana use and calls for legalization of the drug.

“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,” said Tygart. That line of thinking is probably not too far off; people who use one drug could be more likely to experiment with another - a slippery slope. One thing is for certain, marijuana is not enhancing athletes' ability to perform better, if anything it may worsen performance. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues to rise, as well as, how college sports programs will respond to the problem.

“It’s too early to tell if this is a one-year spike or indication of a larger problem,” NCAA spokesman Christopher Radford told the newspaper. According to Radford, the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sport will be tracking this issue.

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