By Brian Chick
Last spring, Randy Nohr of the St. Francis Xavier University men’s basketball team tested positive for a banned substance while leading his team to the national championship.
He was stripped of his Canadian Championship medal, his all-star status, and his tournament Most Valuable Player award, and handed at least a three month suspension. And for what performance enhancing drug? Tylenol.
Interuniversity athletes are subject to drug-testing policies as strict as those used at the Olympics. The Rams, however, are not worried. “Three of the last four years, one of our players has been tested,” said men’s basketball coach Terry Haggerty. “Everything has come out fine. It’s just a spot-check.”
Following CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) guidelines, all athletes are required to attend a doping-information seminar at the beginning of their seasons. There, players are told which substances are banned, and the procedures involved with random testing. The seminars are required within the first two weeks of the season.
At this session, all players submit information forms that cover everything from their sports and positions to their cell phone numbers. They are then eligible to be randomly tested for the next 18 months. Those involved with Ryerson athletics, though, are already familiar with CIS doping-control policy. Some substances on the banned list are found in over-the-counter medications, like cold remedies. Nohr tested positive for pseudoephedrine, a stimulant found in Tylenol.
Haggerty says that Ryerson is careful of the banned substance list, which is the same list used by the International Olympic Committee. “You just have to pay attention to things like that,” he said, “There are alternative medications you can take for a cold.” He also noted that Ryerson has staff who help the athletes make sure they don’t accidentally take a banned substance.
The CIS randomly tests 500 of the country’s 12,000 student-athletes each year. Depending on the severity of the infraction, penalties vary. No matter what the substance, all records, awards, or titles are take away. In the case of the team sports, the team is not penalized. Certain prescription medications on the banned list are allowed with permission from the CIS and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES), the organization that oversees the testing. The CIS has been administering drug tests since 1991.