This panel looks to explore the issues facing leagues and organizations as their drug policies adapt to a changing testing landscape. We will discuss not only the policies and procedures relevant to performance enhancing drugs, but will also explore use of marijuana as a medicinal pain reliever and how leagues will respond to the legalization of marijuana in certain states.
Vice President of Drug, Health and Safety Programs, MLB
Jon oversees all aspects of Major League Baseball’s drug prevention and treatment programs, including the management of the programs’ associated scientific experts, medical consultants, specimen collection agents, and testing laboratories. Jon also plays a key role in collective bargaining issues with the Major League Baseball Players Association, including the annual review and update of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Jon works closely with Major League Club officials – primarily team physicians, certified athletic trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, and employee assistance professionals – on a variety of legal, anti-doping, player development, and medical-related matters. Jon is highly involved in MLB’s league-wide concussion protocols, health and safety initiatives, smokeless tobacco programs, medical and nutritional standards, as well as all drug, alcohol and domestic violence education and treatment programs. Jon serves as the Office of the Commissioner’s legal representative to the Medical Advisory Committee, Strength and Conditioning Advisory Committee, Health Policy Advisory Committees, and Joint Treatment Board, and is also MLB’s liaison to the World Anti-Doping Agency, the United States Anti-Doping Agency, and the Partnership for Clean Competition.
Jon was hired by the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball as Director of Major League and Minor League Drug Programs in June 2007. Jon graduated from the University of Rochester in 2001 and the University at Buffalo Law School in 2005.
Mark Fainaru-Wada (moderator)
Investigative Reporter, ESPN
Mark Fainaru-Wada is a member of ESPN’s Enterprise and Investigative unit, which produces work for the award-winning program “Outside the Lines.”
In October 2013, Fainaru-Wada and his colleague/brother Steve Fainaru published the New York Times bestseller “League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth.” (Crown Archetype) The book won the 2014 PEN Award for Literary Sports Writing. The brothers also served as reporters and writers on a companion documentary of the same name for PBS’s award-winning program “Frontline.” The “League of Denial” documentary earned the prestigious George Polk and Peabody awards, as well as an Emmy nomination. The Fainarus also were part of an ESPN team honored with a Peabody for reporting on concussions in the NFL.
At the San Francisco Chronicle, Fainaru-Wada and colleague Lance Williams earned a string of national honors in 2004 and 2005 for their coverage of the BALCO steroids scandal. In March 2006, Fainaru-Wada and Williams published “Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports.” (Gotham) The book became a New York Times bestseller and prompted Major League Baseball to investigate steroid use in its sport.
In May 2006, Fainaru-Wada and Williams were issued subpoenas to testify before a grand jury investigating the source(s) of some of the information they published in The Chronicle and their book. The reporters vowed not to reveal their sources and were appealing their sentence of up to 18 months in prison when the government dropped the subpoenas.
Fainaru-Wada previously worked for the San Francisco Examiner, Scripps Howard News Service, The National, the Los Angeles Daily News and the Knoxville (Tenn.) News-Sentinel.
He is a graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism.
Legal Affairs Director - Emerging and Pro Sports, USADA
C. Onye Ikwuakor has served as in-house counsel for the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) since 2012, and assumed responsibility for the UFC Anti-Doping Program’s legal affairs when the program launched in 2015 as the first independently administered anti-doping program in a major professional sport. In this role, Ikwuakor largely focuses on the evaluation and investigation of potential anti-doping policy violations by UFC athletes, while also working closely with State Athletic Commissions on advancing anti-doping related initiatives in combat sport.
Prior to joining USADA, Ikwuakor worked as a litigation Associate in the Colorado Springs office of Bryan Cave HRO, where he primarily focused on right-to- compete and code of conduct matters for Olympic sport organizations. A graduate of Iowa State University, Ikwuakor went on to earn his J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2008. He is admitted to the Bar in California and Colorado, and in 2012, was named one of the Lawyers of the Year by Colorado Law Weekly for his work related to uncovering the U.S. Postal Service Cycling Team doping conspiracy.
Former NFL Player
Nate Jackson is a San Jose native who attended Pioneer High School and graduated from Menlo College in 2002. He was signed as a free agent wide receiver to the San Francisco 49ers and was traded to the Denver Broncos, where he spent six seasons as a wide receiver/tight end.
After retiring, his writing was featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Slate, and the Wall Street Journal, which led to the writing of two books, "Slow Getting Up" and "Fantasy Man", about life in the NFL, and life after the NFL, respectively. He now advocates for the rights of current and former players and has encouraged the league to provide players access to alternative medicine, including cannabis.
Deputy Executive Director, National Basketball Players Association; former NBA player
Howard Jacobs is a sports lawyer in the Los Angeles suburb of Westlake Village, California. Mr. Jacobs has been identified by various national newspapers as one of the leading sports lawyers in the United States, and was profiled by USA Today in a feature article titled “Athletes accused of cheating find perfect advocate.” His law practice focuses on the representation of athletes in all types of disputes, with a particular focus on the defense of athletes charged with doping offenses. Past clients include tennis legend Maria Sharapova, U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, Olympic gold medalist Veronica Campbell Brown, basketball legend Diana Taurasi, UFC star Jon Jones, and many others.
He has also represented numerous professional athletes in salary disputes around the world. Mr. Jacobs has represented professional athletes, Olympic athletes and amateur athletes in disputes involving doping, endorsements, unauthorized use of name and likeness, salary issues, team selection issues, and other matters. He is at the forefront of many cutting edge legal issues that affect athletes, winning cases that have set precedents that have benefited the athlete community. Because of this, Mr. Jacobs is a sought-after expert on sports law issues. He is regularly quoted in major newspapers and sports magazines and appears on national and international television and radio shows.
Mr. Jacobs graduated from Florida State University in 1987 and William and Mary Law School in 1990. He ran cross country and track & field for Florida State University and competed as a professional triathlete during law school.