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Bledsoe v. NCAA: OU Student-Athlete Challenges NCAA Drug Testing Policies

Amani Bledsoe (“Bledsoe”) is a football student-athlete at the University of Oklahoma (“OU”). He was highly recruited as a high football athlete and chose to attend OU over numerous other institutions. Bledsoe enrolled at OU in August 2016 and participated as a member of the OU football team. In September 2016, Bledsoe ran out of whey protein powder, so he borrowed an unopened container of Inner Armour Sports Nutrition: Anabolic Peak (“Supplement”) from a teammate. Bledsoe ingested the Supplement on only one occasion. Subsequently, he purchased his own whey protein supplement.

On or about October 5, 2016, Bledsoe submitted for a random drug test administrated by the NCAA. On October 19, 2016, Bledsoe was informed that he tested positive for clomiphene (“Banned Substance”), which is a selective estrogen receptor modulator. The Banned Substance is commonly marketed as Clomid and is used to help treat infertility in women. Some male athletes have used Clomid to block estrogen production and, thus, achieve muscle gains. The Banned Substance is considered a banned substance pursuant the NCAA regulations.

Bledsoe provided all of the supplements and vitamins he was taking for review by a testing lab. The testing lab determined that the Supplement contained the Banned Substance despite the fact that the label did not disclose the Banned Substance. On November 28, 2016, Bledsoe submitted a written appeal to the NCAA arguing that he was not at fault for the ingestion of the Banned Substance because he was not aware of its existence. On December 1, 2016, the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (“Committee”) held a hearing on Bledsoe’s appeal. On December 5, 2016, the Committee denied Bledsoe’s appeal.

On August 24, 2017, Bledsoe filed suit against the NCAA in Cleveland County, Oklahoma (i.e., Norman, Oklahoma and the home of OU). Bledsoe set forth claims under Article II, Section 7 of the Oklahoma Constitution arguing that the NCAA committed substantive and procedural due process violations and also requested injunctive and declaratory relief. In short, Bledsoe argues that the NCAA’s drug testing policy is unconstitutional because it administers “damaging, life-changing, quasi-criminal punishments to student-athletes on a strict liability basis without any type of knowledge, intent, or mens rea component.” Bledsoe, therefore, requests reinstatement of his loss of one year of eligibility, attorneys’ fees, and costs.

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