NCAA rules on banned nutritional supplements

It was recently reported by the New York Times that two dietary supplements that are popular with high school football players, Mass Xtreme and Tren Xtreme, contain steroids, according to court documents filed by federal authorities.  Search warrants executed by authorities on July 23 allege that the products, manufactured by American Cellular Labs, contain illegal man-made steroids.

This news should serve as a reminder to high school athletes, parents, and coaches to be careful about nutritional supplements that are purchased over-the-counter.

In addition, high school athletes who will be starting their college careers at NCAA colleges and universities within the next month are reminded that they will be subject to NCAA drug tests, and in many cases, additional drug tests administered by their school or conference.  These athletes should have received a list of the NCAA’s banned substances from their college or university.  If you did not receive such a list, be sure to contact your coaches and request a copy of the list.

Many universities, especially at the Division I level, have their own drug-testing policies, which in most cases are “help-based” programs.  This means that if an athlete tests positive in a university drug test, they will be referred for counseling and/or drug education classes, and may serve a penalty determined by the coach or school, but will not necessarily be subject to restrictions by the NCAA.

NCAA athletes will also be subject to drug tests administered by the NCAA.  The NCAA drug-testing program is a “punitive” program.  Student-athletes who test positive for NCAA banned substances will be ineligible for one calendar year from the date of a positive drug test. There have been cases in which freshmen athletes tested positive for a substance that they began taking while involved in high school sports because they were not aware that the product contained an NCAA banned substance.

Athletes and parents are reminded that a product as common as caffeine is on the list of NCAA banned substances.  Most athletes would have to drink a large quantity of caffeine to test positive in a NCAA drug test, but due to different body compositions and metabolic rates, there is no sure way to know how much caffeine may be consumed before being in danger of a positive NCAA test.

For more information about matters regarding NCAA rules, or any other issues that athletes and parents have questions about, go to to sign up for our free newsletter, or contact Rick Allen at 913-766-1235 or

About Rick Allen

25+ years NCAA Rules Expertise, including Director of Compliance at 2 major DI schools

Former President of National Association for Athletic Compliance (NAAC)

Conducts compliance reviews and audits at NCAA Schools throughout the U.S.

Consulted with NAIA schools transitioning to NCAA membership status

Dad of a DI & DII student-athlete

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One Response to NCAA rules on banned nutritional supplements

  • Ashley Duff

    What if a athlete gets a positive result from the test and the listed banned substance is not listed on the ingredients on the bottle and there is a possiblity that the substance is found in the root of the product. The company won’t list the other ingredients because they say its a “trade mark” or some kind of trade secret. Do you actually think it is fair to punish the athlete for something that is not listed in the product? They wouldn’t even know a banned substance is listed in the other ingredients if it not on the label. The athlete wouldn’t even know therefore how could you punish them? The company has been in business for a very long time but it is the possibility this product could of been in contact with a banned ingredient. There are people who receive the product and noticed the pills are not the same or the manufactured put the wrong product in the bottle. Things like this can happen. I understand you do have some kind of “Doctor” who helps with this but does he have the knowledge about the roots of the product or the manufactures mistakes? I doubt it seriously as most Doctors don’t like the use of nutritonal supplements. They encourge taking medical prescriptions. I understand you can do a appeal on this matter and it can be denied and the same results can stand. I feel it is not right to punish someone for something that is not listed on the products label! Funny thing about the NCAA is they won’t forgive for a simple misake but they expect parents, coaches, athletes to be forgiving when they make a mistake in a event that can cost someone to place in a event or even win! Very, very sad! They play kinda dirty if you ask me. I guess its their way or no way

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