In 1997, the NCAA Wrestling Committee, with the assistance of the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports adopted significant rules changes to address weight loss issues in the sport of wrestling.

Primary goals were to enhance safety, competitive equity and to emphasize competition rather than weight loss.

The Issues:

SAFETY
In a span of 33 days in late 1997, three collegiate wrestlers, in the presence of coaches, died while engaging in a program of rapid weight loss to qualify for competition. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) review of the three fatalities, the wrestlers were attempting to lose an average of eight pounds over a three- to 12-hour period by wearing rubber suits and exercising vigorously in hot environments. In addition, they were attempting to lose this weight after dropping an average of 21 pounds over the previous 10-13 weeks.

Major medical and sports medicine organizations have had long standing position stands regarding the detrimental health effects of rapid dehydration techniques in the sport of wrestling and the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight throughout the season.

COMPETITIVE EQUITY
Weight is acknowledged as the competitive equity variable in the sport of wrestling. Weight classes and weigh-ins are a part of the sport to ensure competition between individuals of similar weights. The current rules ensure that competitive equity is maintained by weigh ins close to competition and a competitive weight is determined early in the season and maintained throughout the season.

Guiding Principles:
The NCAA weight management rules were implemented to ensure that individuals compete against opponents of similar weight and that this weight is achieved and maintained in an appropriate manner throughout the season. Three guiding principles were established to provide a foundation for the formation of rules recommendations:


1. Any and all weight control practices that could potentially risk the health of the participating student-athlete should be eliminated from wrestling. To do this effectively, the incentives to attempt these unhealthy weight control practices must be minimized.
2. The focus in the sport should be on competition, not weight control.
3. Recommendations should be practical, effective and enforceable.
For more information, contact your coach or visit NCAA Online at www.ncaa.org/champsadmin/wrestling/

1. PROHIBITED PRACTICES.
The use of the following practices is prohibited for any purpose:

vapor impermeable suits (e.g., rubber suits or rubberized nylon);
similar devices used soley for dehydration;
saunas (even off campus);
steam rooms (even off campus);
wrestling room over 75 degrees at start of practice;
hot boxes;
Laxatives (non-prescribed);
emetics;
excessive food and fluid restriction;
self-induced vomiting;
diruetics;
artificial means of rehydration (i.e., intravenous hydration).
Violators of these rules will be suspended for the competition(s) for which the weigh-in is intended. A second violation would result in suspension for the remainder of the season. Coaches aware of vioations are also held to these same penalties.

2. Establish a permanent healthy weight class early in the season.
An initial weight assessment must be completed for each wrestler no earlier than the first day of classes in the fall semester, trimester or quarter and no later than the start of the first official practice (144-day calendar). An exception is permissible for student-athletes participating in a fall sport. In this case, the assessment can be performed during their preseason physical examination. During the initial assessment, a wrestler's minimum wrestling weight (MWW) will be determined. The MWW is the lowest allowable weight a wrestler can attempt to achieve.

3. Controlled Weight Loss until the first match at the certified weight no later than Dec. 15.
Once a MWW has been established, each wrestler has the option of modifying his weight until the permanent weight class is established prior to the first match at the certified weight (no later than December 15).

Numbers to know:


5% Lowest body fat for the MWW.
1.5% Percentage of weight you can lose per week over weight-loss time period.
1.020 Highest urine specific gravity measurement to assess or certify.
24 hours Time between specific gravity tests.
75 (F) Maximum workout room temperature.
4. Certify your weight.
Before you wrestle at your certified weight, you must complete Section II by passing specific gravity and weighing-in at scratch weight for the weight class at which you would like to compete for the rest of the year.

5. Stay at that weight for the entire season.
If you are on the roster at an NCAA institution, you must follow the rules for all collegiate competitions. This means even if you are red-shirting or wrestling in an open tournament when you aren't with your team or coaches, you have to wrestle at your certified weight and follow NCAA rules. Once you certify, you have to weigh-in at that weight class for the remainder of the season, unless you decide to break your certification at the lower weight and weigh-in at the next higher weight class.

Moving up to wrestle at a higher weight class.
To keep your certification at the lower weight, a wrestler may weigh-in at his certified weight and compete at a higher weight class (no allowance permitted). By weighing in at your certified weight, you are still certified at the lower weight and can return. Should a wrestler weigh-in and compete at a weight class higher than his certified weight, the higher weight class will become the certified weight and the wrestler won't be able to return to the lower weight, unless an appeal is granted under very strict circumstances.

Appeal to move down to a lower weight class.
Upon granting of an appeal, a wrestler could be permitted to re-certify to a lower weight (no lower than his MWW) only if a vacancy exists in the lower weight class caused by season-ending injury, academic ineligibility, or the certified wrestler at the lower weight class is no longer enrolled at the institution. A vacancy means there are no other wrestlers on the roster certified to compete at the weight class.

6. Weigh-ins.


Location: A private, secure area at the site of the meet or in an adjacent building limited to contestants, coaches and required personnel.
Time:
Dual Meets: One hour prior to first match.
Tournaments: Two hours prior to the first matches on the first day and one hour or less before the first matches begin on subsequent days.

Weight Allowance: Granting weight allowances for a dual meet or tournament is prohibited, nor can a weight allowance be mutually agreed upon.

SUMMARY
The past three years have been a time of change for all those involved in the sport of wrestling. The committees believe these rules changes were necessary to allow skill and technique rather than rapid weight loss to become the tools for success. The changes were also consistent with the committees' three guiding principles and existing statements of major medical and wrestling groups.

It is difficult to legislate safety. The wrestling community must consider and embrace the spirit as well as the letter of these changes, especially in light of the three fatalities experienced in 1997. These changes are not only in the best interest of the sport, they are also in the best interest and safety of the student-athletes.