Why Not Randomly Drug Test High School Athletes?
With all the commotion at the University of Waterloo and the drug problem that led to the Warriors football season being suspended for one year, there was quite a significant buzz in the high school world of sports on Monday too.
Some people who I spoke to claim there is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode in high schools. When it does, people will scatter, point fingers at everyone and look puzzled.
I must have heard it said 20 times in the span of an hour from teachers, coaches and parents. They claim there is an increase in the number of high school athletes who take performance enhancing drugs -- and nothing is done to deal with the problem. Now, I don't know if that is poppycock or fact.
Apparently, the money spent on public education on this topic has had little effect. Paul Melia, from the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports, said on radio on Monday that now is the time to be focussing on high schools. A fact: there is no system to randomly test high school athletes. Boards of Education don't believe kids use drugs to cheat in sports. In Ontario, schools have money to send Principals on conferences, but have to scrounge up coins to just keep school sports alive. Forget about testing for drugs.
To have finances for testing athletes, and hoping to get to the problem early, no way. Some administrators have also told me that steroid use in Toronto schools is highly exaggerated.
Athletic associations, and even OFSAA, have no rules or policies or even penalties in place on their websites to deal with students who are caught cheating by taking performance-enhancing drugs in sports. I can't believe every student that I have watched with bulging muscles and, you know what I mean, gets that strictly from training. If so, I must be from Mars.
In April of this year, Det. Constable Jerome Codrington of the Waterloo Regional Police told our sister paper in Kitchener that performance-enhancing drugs are more prevalent in schools. So, I would assume a bigger city like Toronto just might have a problem.
Should kids be signing a pledge to not use steroids at the start of a school sports year?
I think so.
Should teachers and coaches and administrators, at the pre-season meeting for school sports teams, clearly articulate anti-drug use in sports along with messages about penalties, behaviour, practices and rules of eligiblity?
I think so.
Should every Board of Education, sports group, athletic association and even OFSAA have received a kick in the butt, after the Waterloo scandal broke, to finally get serious about this problem rather than put it off and focus more on the up-coming summer recess?
I think so.
High schools need to produce policies and rules to deal with students who cheat. They need to have penalties prepared and clearly communicated too. Students who use steroids and human growth hormone to give them an advantage over others need to be booted off teams and sent to proper authorities for assistance -- before they start asking questions about heart attacks, diabetes and more.