The NSCA Board of Directors approved the adoption of the NSCA Codes, Policies, and Procedures by resolution #2017-10-27-01. This document replaces all previous versions of NSCA Code of Ethics, Code of Conduct, Disciplinary Procedures, and Conflict of Interest Policies.
Adopted: October, 2017
Next review: July, 2018
The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is a nonprofit organization of professionals dedicated to advancing the strength and conditioning profession around the world.
To foster this goal, all Professional and Volunteer Leaders (as defined in these Standards and Procedures) associated with the NSCA are accountable for their actions and must act with integrity and professionalism at all times. The purpose of the following policies is to set out the principles and standards of conduct required of NSCA Professional and Volunteer Leaders; to ensure that the name, reputation and integrity of the NSCA are not compromised; and to guide the staff and Board of Directors in identifying and resolving potential violations of those principles and standards.
The NSCA has the inherent power and duty to prescribe standards of conduct for its Professionals and Volunteer Leaders; to determine what constitutes grounds for discipline; and to impose discipline upon any Professional or Volunteer Leader whose failure to comply with the Professional Code of Ethics or the Volunteer Leader Code of Conduct of the NSCA.
Board of Directors. The NSCA Board of Directors shall be responsible for oversight of the Professional Code of Ethics, Volunteer Leader Code of Conduct, and Disciplinary Procedures, as well as the Conflict of Interest Policy, collectively known as the “NSCA Standards and Procedures.”
Ethics Committee. The Board of Directors shall appoint an Ethics Committee comprised of two (2) Board members and one (1) member of the Certification Committee.
Duties of the Ethics Committee include:
1. Review and recommend to the Board of Directors on a regular basis updates to the NSCA Standards and Procedures for adoption and implementation.
2. Investigate potential violations of the Professional Code of Ethics and/or the Volunteer Leader Code of Conduct and make recommendations for resolution.
3. Investigate and make final determinations of any potential conflict under the Conflict of Interest Policy.
4. Maintain a pool of individuals, independent from the NSCA, who are available to serve on Hearing Panels in the event of a Hearing.
Hearing Panels. Hearing Panels are appointed by the Executive Director and authorized to determine final and binding action for matters involving the Professional Code of Ethics and/or the Volunteer Leader Code of Conduct. A Hearing Panel shall consist of one (1) Board member, one (1) member of the Certification Committee and one (1) independent person.
Executive Director. The Executive Director, or his/her designee, is charged with receiving and processing complaints and assisting the Board, the Ethics Committee, and/or a Hearing Panel with administering the NSCA Standards and Procedures.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST IN THE OVERSIGHT OR ADMINISTRATION OF THE NSCA STANDARDS AND PROCEDURES
Should an individual designated to administer any part of the NSCA Standards and Procedures (including the Executive Director or any member of the Board, the Ethics Committee, or a Hearing Panel) have a conflict of interest with any party or issue to the case, or be the subject of an allegation of violating the Professional Code of Ethics, the Volunteer Leader Code of Conduct, or the Conflict of Interest Policy, the duties of said person shall be delegated and that person shall be recused from any involvement in the case, including investigation, sanctioning, or voting. The Ethics Committee, without the involvement of a conflicted individual, shall make determinations regarding the conflict, removal and delegation.
The following definitions shall apply wherever used in the Professional Code of Ethics, Volunteer Leader Code of Conduct, Disciplinary Procedures, or Conflict of Interest Policy:
Candidate: Any person who is in the process of registering for an NSCA certification exam, including those who have completed the registration process.
Certificant: Any person holding a current NSCA certification.
Complainant: Any individual who makes a complaint against a professional or volunteer leader of the NSCA.
Complaint: Any written statement made by any person alleging conduct on the part of a professional or volunteer leader which, if true, would constitute a violation of the Professional Code of Ethics or the Volunteer Leader Code of Conduct.
Member: Any person who is an active member of the NSCA.
Notice: A formal, written, and dated statement from the Ethics Committee or a Hearing Panel in response to a Complaint.
NSCA: National Strength and Conditioning Association.
NSCA Standards and Procedures: The term used to refer to the Professional Code of Ethics, Volunteer Leader Code of Conduct, and Disciplinary Procedures, as well as the Conflict of Interest Policy.
Professional: Any person who is a Member, Candidate, or Certificant of the NSCA.
Respondent: The individual against whom a complaint is brought.
Volunteer Leader: Any person who is a volunteer of the NSCA holding an elected, appointed, or otherwise recognized leadership role within the NSCA, including (but not limited to) directors, officers and/or members of any standing, ad hoc, or temporary boards, committees, special interest groups (SIGs), task forces, and the like.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is committed to the principles of ethical behavior that shall be followed by its Professionals.
The Professional Code of Ethics is intended to establish and maintain high standards and professionalism for strength training, conditioning, and personal training professionals. It is for the protection of the public, the profession, and the maintenance of the standards and principles of the NSCA. It is also intended to enhance the effectiveness of our organization in supporting its mission. Professionals must adhere to these standards of integrity and honesty, encourage ethical behavior and report unethical behavior.
The below principles are written generally and do not address every situation encountered by the strength training, conditioning, and personal training professional. The circumstances of a situation will determine the interpretation and application of a given principle as it relates to the Professional Code of Ethics.
1. Professionals shall respect the rights, welfare, and dignity of all individuals in the context of their professional practice. To that end, Professionals shall…
1.1. not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, marital status, or citizenship.
1.2. provide competent, fair, and equal treatment to all individuals.
1.3. preserve the confidentiality of personal and privileged information of all individuals involved, while remaining accountable.
1.4. not release any information to a third party not involved with the athlete’s or client’s care without a written release unless required by law.
2. Professionals shall comply with all applicable laws, policies, and regulations in the context of their professional practice. To that end, Professionals shall…
2.1. comply with all state, local, and federal laws.
2.2. be familiar and comply with the NSCA Bylaws and all applicable codes, policies, procedures, rules, standards, and guidelines.
2.3. comply with all copyright laws and applicable publication standards.
2.4. not condone or engage in unethical behavior.
2.5. report allegations of unethical behavior.
3. Professionals shall maintain and promote high standards. To that end, Professionals shall…
3.1. not misrepresent, either directly or indirectly, their skills, training, professional credentials, identity, or services.
3.2. only provide services that they are qualified to provide through education or experience and which are allowed by practice acts and other pertinent regulations.
3.3. refer athletes or clients to more qualified fitness, medical, or healthcare professional when appropriate.
3.4. maintain and promote ethical conduct in research and educational activities.
3.5. provide and maintain a safe and effective training environment.
3.6. accept responsibility for the use of sound judgment when working with their clientele.
3.7. strive to safeguard the well-being of athletes and/or clients of certified individuals, and the public.
3.8. strive to remain current on practical and theoretical foundations through continuing education activities and to continuously improve knowledge, skills, and techniques to protect the athlete or client from injury.
4. Professionals shall not engage in any behavior or form of conduct that adversely reflects on the NSCA. To that end, Professionals shall…
4.1. conduct themselves personally and professionally in a manner that does not compromise their professional responsibility.
4.2. not place financial gain above the welfare of the NSCA, athletes or clients, and shall not in any arrangement exploit the NSCA, athletes or clients.
4.3. not obtain or attempt to obtain certification by fraud, deception, or artifice.
4.4. not knowingly assist another person or other persons in obtaining or attempting to obtain certification by fraud, deception, or artifice.
4.5. not engage in illegal use of a certification certificate or falsification of credentials, or any other NSCA documents.
4.6. not engage in unauthorized use of any NSCA trademarks or designations.
4.7. not engage in unauthorized possession and/or distribution of any NSCA certification examination materials to include copying and/or reproduction of any part, question, or problem of any certification examination.
Those who choose to serve NSCA as Volunteer Leaders are held to the highest standards of conduct, and they must do so without personal gain, must avoid any institutional loss or embarrassment, and must behave in such a way that NSCA’s trust and public confidence are enhanced.
Volunteer Leaders (any person who is a volunteer of the NSCA holding an elected, appointed, or otherwise recognized leadership role within the NSCA, including (but not limited to) directors, officers and/or members of any standing, ad hoc, or temporary boards, committees, special interest groups (SIGs), task forces, and the like) owe to NSCA the duties of care and loyalty. Specifically, each such person shall discharge his or her duties (a) in good faith; (b) with the care an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would exercise under similar circumstances, and (c) in a manner that they reasonably believe to be in the best interests of NSCA.
This Code of Conduct establishes minimum standards of acceptable conduct. Accordingly, volunteer leaders shall comply with the following:
1. Conduct all dealings on behalf of the NSCA in a manner that will promote the goals and objectives of NSCA and enhance its reputation.
2. Exhibit honesty, openness, fairness, professional competence and loyalty to the NSCA in your relationships with the NSCA and with each other.
3. Give prudent consideration to issues affecting the NSCA, taking into account established NSCA policies and precedents, the need for confidentiality regarding proprietary and sensitive information, and the legal, financial and administrative effect of proposed actions.
4. Follow directives of the NSCA's Board of Directors and officers.
5. Provide a full, constructive and timely reply, in the form required, to requests from responsible NSCA officials for information and decisions. Fully inform responsible NSCA officials in a timely documented form of matters about which those officials may be unaware, including not only business opportunities, policy alternatives, and organizational needs, but also any actions, no matter who is responsible for those actions, which are contrary to policy or are damaging to NSCA, or which are unethical or unlawful.
6. Assist NSCA volunteers and staff to create and maintain an effectively functioning organization, always respecting the responsibility and authority of those to whom implementation of NSCA policies and goals has been entrusted.
7. Respect the rights of all NSCA volunteers and employees to fair treatment and equal opportunity, free from discrimination or harassment of any type.
8. Strive to ensure that the NSCA adheres to all laws, regulations, rules, policies and protocols applicable to the conduct of NSCA business and activities.
9. Protect information that belongs to the NSCA.
10. Avoid conflicts of interest, both real and perceived, adhering to the NSCA Conflict of Interest Policy. Refrain from using NSCA assets, information, services, opportunities, authority or influence for personal gain.
11. Recognize that even the appearance of misconduct or impropriety can be very damaging to the reputation of the NSCA and act accordingly.
The NSCA will follow these Disciplinary Procedures to determine violations of the NSCA Professional Code of Ethics or Volunteer Leader Code of Conduct, and impose sanctions as appropriate.
In the event this document does not specifically cover a process or procedure to deal with a matter, the Ethics Committee can use additional resources to determine and apply appropriate steps to following in the processing of that matter. This document can be amended upon review and recommendation of the Ethics Committee, and approval by the Board of the Directors.
Complaints may be submitted by any individual against any Professional or Volunteer Leader. The NSCA will not accept anonymous Complaints. Staff or Volunteer Leaders of the NSCA also may initiate a Complaint if one becomes aware of a potential violation through any means such as the media, anti-doping agencies, SafeSport agencies, or the courts.
Complaints must be in writing and submitted to the Executive Director of the NSCA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Executive Director shall promptly forward all Complaints to the Ethics Committee.
Complaints may be dropped or dismissed by the Ethics Committee at any time for insufficient information, or lack of jurisdiction over the individual or the subject matter.
The Ethics Committee may, at any point in the processing of a Complaint, impose interim measures/sanctions to ensure the safety of any individual or the integrity of the NSCA, its work or its services.
NOTICE OF INVESTIGATION AND RESPONSE
The Ethics Committee shall promptly notify the Respondent in writing that s/he is under investigation. Notice shall be sent to the home address and email on record with the NSCA, and include the potential violations, a copy of the written Complaint, any other evidence the Ethics Committee has, and the date by which the Respondent must submit a written response.
Respondents are encouraged to submit their position regarding the situation or conduct under investigation, including documentation or other evidence, and name(s) and contact information for witnesses who can assist in the investigation.
Upon proper notice, if the Respondent fails to submit a response by the specified date in the formal notice, the Ethics Committee may proceed with the disciplinary process.
Upon receipt of a Complaint, the Ethics Committee shall cause an investigation of the alleged incident to be conducted, which may include but is not limited to interviews, a review of related documents, requests for written statements from any person involved in the alleged incident, and/or a review of material available electronically.
The Ethics Committee shall present its investigation results to the Respondent and the Complainant prior to proceeding further with resolution of the case.
RESOLUTION THROUGH AGREEMENT
If the Respondent accepts responsibility for the alleged violation(s), the Ethics Committee may propose an appropriate sanction(s) based on the specifics of the case, precedent and NSCA interests. If the Respondent agrees to the proposed sanction(s), s/he waives the right to a hearing and the resolution becomes final and binding.
If the Respondent denies responsibility and/or rejects the proposed sanction, s/he may request an appeal, as described in the following section. Any request for a hearing must be made in writing and submitted to the Executive Director of the NSCA at email@example.com.
Upon proper notice, if the Respondent fails to engage in the Resolution through Agreement process, or fails to respond in a timely way, the Ethics Committee may impose a final sanction.
If the Respondent requests a hearing, a Hearing Panel shall be appointed by the Executive Director. The Hearing Panel will be comprised of one (1) NSCA Board Member, one (1) Certification Committee member, and one independent person from the pool of independent hearing panelists maintained by the Ethics Committee. The Hearing Panel will determine among themselves who will chair the Panel.
The Hearing Panel is charged with determining whether the Respondent’s actions constitute a violation of either the Professional Code of Ethics and/or the Volunteer Leader Code of Conduct and, if so, an appropriate sanction.
Notice. The Chair shall be responsible for ensuring proper notice to all required individuals, making procedural decisions, conducting the hearing, and writing a reasoned decision.
Upon proper notice, if the Respondent fails to attend the hearing, the Hearing Panel may proceed in her/his absence.
Procedure. Hearings are not trials and are not constrained by rules of procedure and evidence typically used in a court of law. NSCA hearings operate under a standard of fairness, which includes an opportunity for the Respondent to be notified of the alleged incident and policy violations under consideration, and an opportunity to be heard. In addition, Respondents are entitled to the following procedural hearing rights:
1. to be notified of a hearing in advance (notification will include the time, date and location of the hearing as well as names of Hearing Panel members and witnesses);
2. to challenge any Hearing Panel member if there is a conflict of interest;
3. to know of and review in advance written information and allegations presented to the Hearing Panel;
4. to be accompanied by an advisor/attorney to the hearing;
5. to a fair and impartial hearing;
6. to rebut any witness testimony presented against her/him and to cross-examine witnesses;
7. to present witnesses or information at the hearing (the relevancy of which may be determined by the Hearing Panel); and
The burden of proof in a hearing rests with the Complainant and the standard of proof to find a violation is by a preponderance of the evidence.
The general course of procedure for a hearing is as follows: introductions; opening comments from Complainant (if applicable); opening comments from Respondent; testimony/questions of other material witnesses (if applicable); questions from the Hearing Panel; closing comments from Complainant (if applicable); closing comments from Respondent.
The Hearing Panel may impose time limits on any stage of the procedure.
If there are multiple Respondents, the Hearing Panel shall determine whether the cases should be held separately or together. The Respondents may submit input in advance to the Hearing Panel relative to this determination.
All hearings are conducted in private and may be held in-person or by telephonic or electronic means, as determined by the Hearing Panel.
Witnesses. The Hearing Panel may request the presence of any witness with pertinent information about a case. If a witness is unidentified or unavailable to attend the hearing, his/her statement may not constitute a sole or substantial basis for determining responsibility. If s/he is necessary and unidentified or unavailable, the Hearing Panel may suspend or dismiss the proceedings.
The Respondent may bring relevant material witnesses to speak on her/his behalf, and should inform the Hearing Panel in writing in advance of the hearing the names of the witnesses and to what they will attest. The Hearing Panel may determine the extent to which witnesses will be permitted in the hearing, including relevancy of questioning and information presented.
Information to be Considered by the Hearing Panel. The Hearing Panel may consider any information it deems relevant, including documentation and expressions of opinion. If the Hearing Panel needs additional information during a hearing, such as verification of a fact at issue, an expert opinion, etc., the Hearing Panel may request such information and may suspend its decision until such information is obtained. The Respondent will have the right to respond to any additional information that is to be used in considering an outcome.
Outcome. The determination of the Hearing Panel shall be by majority vote. If the Hearing Panel finds the Respondent has committed a violation, the Panel may determine and impose an appropriate sanction(s). The decision of the Hearing Panel is final and binding.
Any violation of the Professional Code of Ethics or the Volunteer Leader Code of Conduct may result in penalties (singly or in combination), including, but not limited to, those from the following list. In determining appropriate sanctions, consideration may be given to the nature of and circumstances surrounding the violation, the Respondent’s acceptance of responsibility, prior violations, the impact of a sanction on the Respondent, precedent cases, the NSCA’s interest in maintaining high standards and integrity, and any other information deemed relevant by the Hearing Panel.
Possible sanctions include but are not limited to:
1. Admonishment. A written reprimand, included but not limited to, a Cease and Desist letter by the Ethics Committee to be placed in an individual's NSCA record.
2. Formal censure. An official resolution recorded in the minutes of a meeting of the Ethics Committee expressing the Ethics Committee’s official displeasure with an individual's conduct and/or responsiveness to the NSCA.
3. Suspension. A suspension of Certificant’s active certification and/or membership rights and privileges of for a definite or indefinite period of time. At the discretion of the Ethics Committee or Hearing Panel, a suspension may require the individual to formally petition for reinstatement.
4. Probation. In lieu of suspension, a period of supervision by the NSCA may be imposed and may include certain terms to fulfill the probationary period.
5. Revocation. A revocation of Certificant’s active certification and/or membership rights and privileges of for a permanent, definite or indefinite period of time. There shall be no automatic reinstatement of a revocation, and the Ethics Committee or Hearing Panel may include certain terms in order for the individual to reapply for certification.
6. Denial of eligibility for certification examinations. An individual’s eligibility for certification may be removed for a definite of indefinite period of time. To be reinstated, the individual must petition the Certification Committee for reconsideration of the matter and explain why such reconsideration should be made.
7. Mandatory re-examination or training to document continued competence. Failure to complete training or pass the examination could lead to suspension of certification for a definite or indefinite period of time.
8. Disqualification. Disqualification from recertifying or certifying for a definite or indefinite period of time.
9. Removal. Removal from a position in which the person serves, subject to applicable provisions of the NSCA Bylaws, policies and procedures.
In conjunction with official sanctions, the NSCA may impose fines, educational requirements, and other conditions deemed necessary and appropriate.
NOTIFICATION AND RECORD OF THE HEARING OUTCOME
The Chair of the Hearing Panel shall produce a written hearing decision describing the outcome, with a brief explanation of the reasoning, and send to the Respondent. The Complainant may also be notified of the outcome.
Public notice of any violation resulting in suspension, removal or revocation of a certification shall be published in the NSCA newsletter, and/or on the NSCA’s website at the discretion of the Hearing Panel. Such notice shall include the name of the Respondent, the rule(s) violated, and the sanction imposed. A permanent record will be added to the individual’s NSCA record.
REPORTS TO/FROM OTHER AGENCIES AND RELATED PROCEEDINGS
If, during the course of the investigation, it appears that criminal misconduct may have occurred, the Executive Director, or designee, will report such allegations to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
Because the standards for finding a violation of criminal law are different from the standards for finding a violation of either the Professional Code of Ethics or the Volunteer Leader Code of Conduct, the resolution of a criminal proceeding is not determinative of (but may be relevant to) whether a violation of an NSCA Code has occurred, regardless of the outcome of any criminal process.
Also, the NSCA process or resolution will not typically be altered or precluded on the grounds that (a) a civil case or criminal charges involving the same incident or conduct has been filed, or (b) charges have been dismissed or reduced; or (c) a lawsuit has been settled or dismissed.
However, the NSCA may delay in its investigation or resolution process to avoid any conflict or interference with legal proceedings; and/or comply with a law enforcement request for cooperation when criminal charges associated with the incident or conduct that invoked this process is being investigated.
If the Respondent is convicted of a crime or subject to a criminal disposition related to the underlying misconduct, the Ethics Committee may investigate or conclude, without a hearing, that a violation of the relevant NSCA Code occurred. If a conclusion is reached that a violation of the Code occurred, the Ethics Committee may issue a sanction; provided that the Hearing Panel had confirmed that the person convicted of the crime or who is subject to a criminal disposition is in fact the Respondent.
Similarly, if the Respondent is found responsible and sanctioned through a Professional Organization, World Anti-Doping Code signatory, the U.S. Center for SafeSport, or similar type agency that offers due process, the Ethics Committee may investigate or conclude, without a hearing, that a violation of the relevant NSCA Code occurred. If a conclusion is reached that a violation of the Code occurred, the Ethics Committee may issue a sanction.
CONFIDENTIALITY OF PROCEEDINGS
Except as is otherwise provided herein, all information, notes, reports, transcripts, and any documentation of any kind generated or received during the course of an investigation, hearing or resolution of a potential violation shall be kept confidential by the NSCA.
The purpose of this policy is to help volunteer leaders of the NSCA to effectively identify, disclose and manage any actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest in order to protect the integrity of the NSCA and manage risk.
NSCA volunteer leaders must serve:
• Without conflict of interest or to seek personal gain or advantage.
• Free from any outside business interests or influence which might interfere or appear to interfere with the proper and efficient discharge of their duties, or which might be inconsistent with their duty of loyalty to the NSCA.
• In such a manner that the trust and public confidence of the NSCA are enhanced, and without embarrassment to or adverse reflection or impact on the integrity of the NSCA.
In recognition of these principles, a volunteer leader or any member of her/his immediate family, may not:
1. Have any beneficial interest in, or substantial obligation to, any supplier of goods or services to the NSCA or any other organization doing business with or serving the NSCA, or which competes with the NSCA.
2. Perform, for personal gain, any services to any supplier of goods or services to the NSCA, or to any competitor of the NSCA.
3. Act as an employee, consultant, or in any other capacity with any supplier of goods or services to the NSCA, which promises compensation, benefit, or reward of any kind, or with any competitor of the NSCA.
4. Bid on and/or be granted a contract by the NSCA. Furthermore, no companies or individuals who have family members, spouses, or former business associates are eligible to bid on or be granted a contract by the NSCA. Exceptions to this may be granted by the NSCA Board of Directors.
5. Accept any gift, gratuity, entertainment, service, loan, or promise of future benefits from any persons who either personally or whose employees might benefit or appear to benefit from such volunteer’s connection with the NSCA. It is also a violation to give gifts to individuals or firms with whom the NSCA does business. However, these prohibitions are not intended to apply to gifts and/or similar entertainment of nominal value that clearly are in keeping with good business ethics and do not obligate the recipient. For example, excluded from these prohibitions is the exchange of normal business courtesies such as meals, when they are proper and consistent with regular business practice. Also excluded are advertising or promotional materials and holiday or other gifts, which are of nominal value (less than $25). Volunteers are expected to work out for themselves the most gracious method of declining gifts, entertainment, and benefits that do not meet these standards.
6. Take any action on behalf of the NSCA that they know, or reasonably should know, violates any applicable law or regulation. This includes such activities as bribery, kickbacks, falsehoods, and misrepresentations.
DUTY TO DISCLOSE and RESOLUTION OF POTENTIAL CONFLICTS
Prior to assuming the role of a Volunteer Leader of the NSCA, and throughout one’s tenure, an individual must disclose any potential conflict to the Ethics Committee, which may take appropriate steps to prevent influence, either on the general affairs of the NSCA or on a particular deliberation or vote. This action may include rendering the individual ineligible, or removal of the individual from his/her leadership position.