"The NCAA came out with rules which say that we can't give muscle-building products.Strange, but it gets worse. A burden has been placed on the athletes who are quite often far less versed in the supplement world as to what's good or bad, legal or illegal.
"If we give [the athletes] weight-gain products, there must be a limit of 30 percent protein. That means all the rest, 70 percent, is bad stuff like sugar. Really, we couldn't give them peanut butter or milk. I've never understood that rule."
When athletes are unable to get supplements from their school, they must go to other places – namely, health food stores. Now, difficulties can surface.So what we have here in some situations is cases of athletes potentially suffering punishment that could have been avoided if the schools had more leeway to provide supplements. Any accidental failure of an athlete thus becomes the athlete's fault but the school will also suffer in having lost the contributions of said athlete and prestige from a preventable drug test failure.
"It's so strict as to what we can give them, it forces the athletes to go to health food stores," Moffitt said. "(LSU Senior Associate Athletics Trainer) Shelly Mullenix and I evaluate what the athletes can and can't use.
"Our kids go to health food stores and ask if the supplements contain something that will cause them to fail a drug test. Some stores know the rules. But, there are some unscrupulous salesmen out there."
As a result, the LSU players are told to bring the products they purchase to Moffitt before they use them.
"We ask the players to bring to me what they buy," Moffitt said. "It never fails that someone brings something that would make him fail a drug test.
"By going to health food stores, it forces the players to buy things on their own. The players are more exposed to something that can make them fail a drug test."
Even when schools are doing the right thing, mistakes can be made. Look no further than the controversy surrounding Oklahoma this week. The school reported secondary violations for providing two banned supplements to players.
The situation apparently involves a supplement company messing up the school's order in one case and the strength and conditioning staff failing to review the ingredient list of a second supplement. The names and types of supplements were not included in the report.Oklahoma made a mistake, but it's a mistake almost any school could commit. As it stands, the NCAA has a small enforcement wing, placing the burdens of enforcement on the schools (or their rivals) to self-report any mistakes. Unfortunately some of the rules are unnecessarily inflexible such as with the case of LSU not being able to provide peanut butter to its athletes.
The NCAA means well but the current rules and expectations are sometimes unfair and burdensome.
Exceptions should be made for schools to provide certain basic foodstuffs and supplements. Enforcement should balance the spirit of the rules with the realization that mistakes can easily be made. Right now a certain information burden is placed on the athletes to stay within the rules when taking supplements outside of their schools' limited assistance. Their preventable mistakes should be treated with leniency until this burden can be narrowed given what we have seen here.