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
Current revision: January, 2022
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:
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, the Volunteer Leader Code of Conduct, or the Conflict of Interest Policy. A complaint may also be made regarding an administrative procedure or process of the NSCA.
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, personal training and related 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, intimidate, or persecute on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, marital or financial 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.
1.5. not engage in bullying or harassment in the context of professional activities.
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, immoral or dishonest behavior; that is, behavior that violates the standards of accepted professionalism.
2.5. report allegations of unethical, immoral, or dishonest 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, both in person and online, 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:
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 follow 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 address anonymous Complaints nor Complaints involving incidents more than three (3) years old. 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 email@example.com. Complaints must also include a request for proposed resolution.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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:
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:
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 and Complainant.
NSCA volunteer leaders must serve:
In recognition of these principles, a volunteer leader or any member of her/his immediate family, may not:
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.