Drug testing not frequent for D-III athletes

By Michelle Phan
April 6, 2006

The Bush administration’s 2007 budget proposes to increase random drug testing of high-school students by 50 percent. The program would cost $15 million. However, is there evidence that drug testing actually reduces drug use among students who never think they are going to get caught at anything?

Freshmen soccer forward Amanda Urquhart believes that increasing drug testing in Division III athletics will not really accomplish what it sets out to. “I know a lot of athletes out there that do other types of drugs, drugs that don’t even help their performance on the field. They do this knowing full well that they can get in trouble without even getting tested, like if the coaches catch them in the act or if they come to practice obviously ‘intoxicated.’ What would stop these same kids with that ‘who cares’ mindset from doing a drug that would actually help their athletic performance?”

The drug policy is Division III is as stringent as Division I. “Before you begin a season for any sport you must fill out paperwork. These include insurance forms as well as a waiver that allows the NCAA to test you for any type of drug if you are randomly selected by them,” explains Cabrini Athlete of the year, senior Diamond Jones.

If you are randomly selected, a simple urine test can determine whether or not you have complied with the NCAA’s drug rules.

“If you are found to have used any substances banned or deemed illegal, you are stripped of any medals or honors you received in that particular season, and you lose one year of your eligibility,” explains James Williams, head coach of Cabrini College’s women’s track and field team and NCAA Mid-East region chairperson. “You only have four years to participate in any given sport, and this means that you have to sit out a year without ever getting that year back”.

Unlike Division I sports, however, Division III does not test as many people in a given year. “Division III track and field, which is all I really know, only tests about one to three people a year, so although I don’t condone enhancement drugs, I don’t really see a real threat for those Division III athletes who do use.”

This, along with the “I won’t be the one to get tested anyway” mentality has left an open door for DIII athletes to experiment with enhancement drugs.

“My team won the Pa. State Championship in track and field in 2003, and not one of us was tested, not even my older brother Al, who won the long jump and placed in the 60-meter dash. He didn’t get tested when he made All-American either,” noted DIII indoor track triple jump champion Tony Gregory. “I though I might have gotten tested at Nationals, when I won as a virtual non-contender, but I wasn’t. If anyone this year was suspected of drug-use, I think it would have been me.”

Two-Time All American Lauren Deas was never tested in high school or college, but recalls a dramatic drug test last year at the 2005 NCAA outdoor track and field championships at Wartburg College in Iowa. “After winning the men’s 4X100, Jersey City’s entire relay was drug tested. Sherron Bullock, one of the four on the relay, tested positive for weed. Their championship in the 4X100 as well as their All-American performance in the 4X400 meter relay were both stripped.”

Examples like this help keep the less bold athletes away from banned substances, but there will always be those risk-takers that simply do not let instances like this stand in their ways. Something else must be done because of this.

When asked what she though could help, Deas said: “It was really embarrassing for Bullock and the school. I bet no one else from that school will do any type of drug during season again, but I think that’s as far as it’ll go. As far as other athletes, I think the schools and the coaches should stay on top of all that. Maybe fear can be put into the athletes if the institutions randomly tested one person a season in their own schools. That personal touch would work I think.”

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Michelle Phan

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