Are college athletes “falling through the cracks” of the imperfect random drug testing programs in America’s colleges and universities? And if they are, could this be contributing to the soaring drug abuse scandals among pro athletes, most of whom came up through college sports? No one really knows, and meanwhile the parade of athletes into drug rehab continues unabated.
College drug testing is intended to deter the use of drugs to help level the playing field and keep athletes healthy. But there’s no standards – college tests vary widely from school to school, including the number of athletes tested, the substances they are tested for, the quality of testing and penalties for failing. Colleges spend anywhere from $3, 000 to as much as $160, 000 a year on testing. And corona rehabilitation center most tests are for street drugs like marijuana, heroin and Ecstasy, not performance enhancing drugs like steroids, which cost far more than street drugs to test for. Testing for street drugs is probably a positive aspect, however, because almost all athletes reaching drug rehab are in trouble with street drugs, not steroids.
Random testing is also performed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which tests for a more comprehensive list of banned substances. But only 4 percent of athletes are ever tested, according to a series of articles in the Salt Lake Tribune. In the long run, including both college and NCAA tests, most college athletes will never be tested for steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. Most importantly, because of different policies and methods, thousands of athletes are never tested at all. The consensus is that because of the low risk of getting caught, many athletes are slipping through the cracks and could be headed for drug rehab in the future.
Pro sports has been widely tainted by drug abuse scandals, and most pros come up through college. Could poor college testing standards be contributing to the rash of professionals requiring drug rehab these days? No one knows, and the scandals continue. Many high schools also test randomly, but again, there are no standards. Drug abuse is common in high schools – the recent heroin death of a high school football star is a case in point, a tragic death that could have been prevented by a timely drug rehab – and high school athletes become tomorrow’s college stars.
In the final analysis, we are left with drug problems at all levels of sports and a lot of unanswered questions. No one knows if drug abuse is a big, undetected problem in college sports, or whether imperfect high school and college-level testing contributes to the numbers of pros who have drug problems and eventually enter drug rehab.
In an era when pro sports and even Olympic sports are routinely embarrassed by drug abuse scandals, we are left with no obvious or easy solutions. But media scandals, dozens of athletes heading for drug rehab, fines and suspensions, and the escalating cynicism and growing loss of confidence among fans can’t be good for sports.
Drug abuse among school and pro athletes is not going to go away as long as we rely on the hit-or-miss random testing system. After all is said and done, though, the problem is best solved by increased parental responsibility, better drug education, and greater vigilance on the part of families, friends, team-mates and school officials to spot drug problems early, and get young drug abusers into a drug rehab program sooner rather than later.