ools for theParticipation of
Primarily Student Athletes
LA: 401: Science, Technology, and Human Values
With the recent steroid a scandal in Major League Baseball, debates
over mandatory drug testing polices have sparked interest across the
country. One issue that is highly controversial, but has taken a back seat
in the in the debate, is the issue of mandatory drug testing policies in
high schools. With teenage drug use on the rise in the 90s’ the federal
government and the United States Supreme Court gave the green light to
mandatory drug testing policies for student athletes and participants of
extra-curricular activities. In this paper I hope to prove that mandatory
drug testing of student athletes and participants of extra-curricular at
the high school level is a well-meaning but wrong-headed approach to teen
Although mandatory drug testing is necessary at the collegiate and
professional levels of competition in order to ensure a level playing field
among athletes, to preserve the credibility and integrity of the particular
sport, and to prevent and protect athletes from drug abuse, mandatory drug
testing should be removed at the high school level because mandatory drug
testing can have a negative effect on the classroom or team, is a waste of
valuable school financial resources, may be a potential barrier to joining
extra-curricular activities because drug testing is typically aimed at
students who want to participate in those activities, drug tests being used
by high schools have been known to give false positives, which could punish
innocent students, and may cause several unintended consequences such as:
students turning to more dangerous drugs that are not detectable by the
tests currently being used, students out smarting the tests, and students
learning that they are assumed guilty until they are proven innocent.
Anabolic steroids are, “synthetic substances related to male sex
hormones (androgens). They promote growth of skeletal muscle (anabolic
effect) and the development of male sexual characteristics (androgenic
effects).” Users of anabolic steroids run the risk of stunted bone growth,
permanent damage to the heart, liver, kidneys, and a known seventy other
major physical and psychological side effects. Currently, anabolic steroids
are only legal in the United States by doctor prescription. Doctors use
these steroids to treat patients who have developed certain conditions that
force the body to produce low amounts of testosterone, such as delay
puberty and some types of impotence, and also to treat body wasting in
patients with AIDS and other diseases. Finally, anabolic steroids are
different from steroidal supplements sold over the counter in the United
States, such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and androstenedione (known as
Andro). Users buy theses supplements through commercial sources including
health food stores, because they believe the supplements have anabolic
effects. This supplement was made popular during Mark McGwire’s record
setting home run season and the controversy surround his admittance of
using the supplement.
Currently, there are three common drug-testing methods employed by
the public school system, they include urinalysis test, hair follicle test,
and the use of a sweat patch test. The urinalysis test is the most common
test used in high schools, primarily because of its low cost per a test,
usually ranging from $10 to $30 per test, however with the relative low
cost comes several problems. The first is a urinalysis test cannot detect
alcohol or tobacco uses, both are illegal at the high school age. Secondly,
by using a urinalysis test a specimen has a possibility of being
adulterated. Finally, the urinalysis test is the most invasive of all drug
tests because someone must be present when the specimen is collected.
The second method of drug testing used by high schools is the hair
follicle test. The hair follicle test is the mot expensive test used by
high schools at a cost of $60 to $75 per test. The test is limited to the
five basic drug panel, which include marijuana, cocaine, opiate,
amphetamines, and PCP. The test cannot detect alcohol use or recent drug
use. Even though the hair follicle test is look at to be one of the more
reliable drug tests, it does have its share problems. The test tends to be
discriminatory: “dark haired people are more likely to test positive than
blondes, and African-Americans are more likely to test positive than
Caucasians.” In addition, exposure to drugs in the environment may lead to
false positives, especially if those drugs are smoked.
Finally, the third method of drug testing used by high schools is the
sweat patch test. The sweat patch test is also relatively cheap at $20 to
$30 per test. The sweat patch test is able to detect the most drugs of out
of the three tests, but the test is plagued with several problems. First,
very few labs in this country are able to process the results, which causes
an inconvenience to school districts. Secondly, passive exposure to drugs
could result in false positives, due to contamination of the patch.
Finally, any individual with excessive body hair, scrapes or cuts, and skin
eruptions cannot wear the patch.
New drug testing techniques are being developed to be more accurate
and less invasive. One of theses new techniques is the saliva test. This
test is said to be almost unbeatable because it uses a persons DNA.
However, this test opens up new doors of controversy, because it looks deep
into ones past creating privacy issues and could open the door for
employers to genetically test for certain types of employees.
Monitoring the Future is an ongoing study conducted by the institute
for Social Research at the University of Michigan, which surveys the
behaviors, attitudes, and values of American secondary school students,
college students, and young adults. The study first began in 1975, when
about 50,000 12th graders were surveyed. In 1991, 8th and 1oth graders were
added to the survey. In addition to the survey, follow up questionnaires
are mailed to a sample of each graduating class for a number of years after
the initial survey.
History of the Issue
In order to understand the mandatory drug testing issue completely,
it is essential that we examine the background and history of events
contributing to the establishment of mandatory drug testing of student
athletes and participates of extra-curricular activities in high schools.
The testing of student athletes and extra-curricular participates did not
begin just recently. However: until recently, the debate of drug testing
effectiveness was minimal.
Impact of the ’60s
In the mid 1960’s with the coming of age of the Baby Boom generation
and counter-culture revolution brought narcotics into the mainstream of
America’s culture. By the late 1960’s middle-class youths and soldiers
serving in Vietnam spurred on by popular music, had embraced certain drugs
like marijuana, hallucinogens, and several others. In 1968, President Nixon
was elected president on a law-and-order platform that emphasized a crack
down on drug use. That same year mandatory drug testing was instituted by
the military, because of a growing number of drug addicted Vietnam vets
War on Drugs
In 1970, Congress passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and
Control Act. This act significantly lessened penalties for possession of
many drugs. A year later, President Nixon declared the first “war on
drugs.” In 1975, the University of Michigan’s Institute of Social Research
conducted the first of its series of “Monitoring the Future” studies on
student drug use. In 1977, President Carter called for the
decriminalization of marijuana, but later he drops the idea. In 1979, drug
use peaks and an anti-drug movement began, led mostly by parents.
Just Say No
The 1980’s brought about many changes in the drug policy of the
United States. The drug cocaine was gaining popularity, especially among
young, white, urban, professionals. In 1982, President Reagan declared a
second “war on drugs.” In July of 1985, an Arkansas court ruled that “the
excessive intrusive nature” of drug testing student athletes without
reasonable suspicion is not justified by its need. On June 19, 1986,
University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose,
his death prompted almost immediate change, when it came to drug testing.
A few months after Bias’s death, President Reagan and the first lady
launched the national “Just say no” anti-drug campaign. President Reagan
also issued Executive Order 12564, calling for a “drug free workplace” in
all federal agencies. In addition, in a symbolic gesture he and his senior
advisors provide urine samples to be tested for illegal drugs. Congressed
followed suit and passed into law the Drug Free Schools and Communities
Act, which provide schools with funds to start anti-drug programs. The
President signed the law on Oct. 27, 1986. States across the country also
began to pass their own “Drug Free School Zone” laws. That same year,
Bias’s death prompted the NCAA to approve mandatory drug testing for all
The late 80’s brought on a continued focus on illegal drug use. In
1988, President Bush established the White House Office of National Drug
Control Policy. November 1988, Congress passed the Drug Free Work Place
Act, which required all federal contractors or grant recipients to maintain
drug free work places. This prompted many employers’ begin to set voluntary
testing programs. This also leads to lawsuits brought by employees,
claiming drug testing is a violation of individual privacy rights. The
courts responded and allowed suspicion less drug testing. In 1989,
President Bush unveils his National Drug Control Strategy, which encouraged
drug for workplace policies in the private sector and in state and local
government. That same year the Supreme Court upholds random drug testing
when a “special need” outweighs individual privacy rights, in the National
Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab decision.
Roller Coaster ’90s
The 1990’s began with teen drug at an all time low and the expansion
of drug testing policies. President Bush expanded the federal drug-testing
program to include all White House personnel. In 1991, Congress passes the
Omnibus Transportation and Employment Testing Act, which mandated drug and
alcohol testing to 8 million private-sector pilots, drivers, and equipment
operators. In 1992, President Clinton is elected and drug use begins
increasing. Some say the increase was due to the Persian Gulf War and the
media, especially the recording industry, with messages of sex, drug, and
rock-and-roll. One of President Clinton’s first acts in the White House was
to expand on the drug testing policies of Presidents Reagan and Bush; he
starts by authorizing mandatory drug testing in prisons.
In 1995, the United States Supreme Court gave the green light to
mandatory drug testing of high school athletes. In the case of Veronia
School District v. Acton, the supreme court ruled that mandatory drug
testing in high school athletics programs was not an unreasonable search or
seizure, nor was the testing an invasion of the student athlete’s privacy.
The Supreme Court ruled that suspicion less; random urinalysis drug testing
of high school athletes was justified because the drug crisis in the school
district had reached “epidemic proportions.” In the four and half years
prior to the case, the Veronica school district had found only 12 positive
drug tests. Ten years earlier the Supreme Court had struck down as
unreasonable a New Jersey school’s athlete drug testing program, in which
28 student athletes tested positive for drugs in a single year.
In the Veronia case Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion;
he was the same justice that wrote scornful dissent in the Von Raab
decision. Justice Scalia argued that student athletes have less privacy
rights than the general student body because they dress and shower in close
proximity. “Legitimate privacy expectations are even less with regard to
student athletes. School sports are not for the bashful. They require
“suiting up” before each practice or event, and showering and changing
afterward. Public school locker rooms, the usual sites of these activities,
are not notable for the privacy they afford. The locker rooms in Vernonia
are typical: no individual dressing rooms are provided; shower heads are
lined up along the wall, unseparated by any sort of partition or curtain;
not even all the toilet stalls have doors.” Justice Scalia wrote. Justice
Scalia went on to add that the increase of drug use by the student body was
“largely fueled by the ‘role model’ effect of athletes’ drug use.”
In 2001, Congress allocated $185 million to the Office of National
Drug Control Policy for advertisements and campaign projects, in 2002 the
administration only asked for $180 million. On February 12 of 2002,
President George W. Bush unveiled a $19 billion anti-drug package that
aimed to cut drug use in the United States by 10 percent in two years and
by 25 percent in five years. Also, the DARE program would receive $644
million, $103 million less than it received in 2001. The decrease was due
to the program in recent years being ineffective and wasteful. President
Bush’s plan also called for more emphasis on treatment and prevention, and
federal grants for drug treatment would be increased by more than 6
percent, to $3.8 billion for the fiscal year of 2003. Later that year the
Supreme Court ruled on the landmark case of Board of Education of
Independent School District No.92 of Pottawatomie County v. Earls.
In the case of the BOE v. Earls, the Supreme Court ruled that an
Oklahoma school policy of randomly drug testing students who participate in
competitive, non-athletic extra-curricular activities was in fact
constitutional. In a 5-4 decision the court reversed a federal court
ruling. Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority said that the
court found such a policy “a reasonably effective means of addressing the
school district’s legitimate concerns in preventing, deterring, and
detecting drug use.” In the dissent, Justice Ruth Ginsburg said the testing
program was “capricious, even perverse,” infringing on the rights of a
“student population least likely to be at risk from illicit drugs and their
Clarification of the Problem
Mandatory drug testing plays a vital role in protecting individuals
and sports at both the collegiate and professional levels. Unfortunately,
when mandatory drug testing is carried over to the high school level,
several consequences arise. When teenage drug use began to rise in the mid
90s’ public school districts began to adopt mandatory drug testing
policies, these policies have since been upheld as constitutional by the
United States Supreme Court. However, research has shown that these
policies are unsuccessful at deterring drug use among teenagers and may
even hamper the process. The reason is simple mandatory drug testing
policies at the high school level are aimed at the students who are at the
least risk of abusing drugs the athletes and extra-curricular participants.
Arguments For Removal of Mandatory Drug Testing at the High School Level
It is extremely important for the government to remove mandatory drug
testing in high schools for student athletes and extra-curricular
participates. Research has shown that mandatory drug testing at the high
school level is not effective for several reasons.
Negative Impact on the Classroom or Team
The first argument for the removal of mandatory drug testing at the
high school level is that mandatory drug testing can have a negative effect
on the classroom and on the team. Mandatory drug testing can undermine
student-teacher relationships by “pitting students against teachers,
administrators, school nurses, and coaches who have to test them, because
it erodes trust between the student and the tester and leaves the student
feeling ashamed and resentful. Whether a school district buys drug test
directly from a manufacturer and administers the test themselves or has an
independent source brought in to administer the tests, someone must be
present as the student urinates to be sure the sample is their own. This
collection process can be a humiliating violation of the student’s privacy,
and can be especially embarrassing for adolescent.
Lack of student-teacher or student-coach trust created by drug
testing also creates an unnecessarily tense school environment for
students. In this type of environment students feel they cannot address
their fears or concerns, both about the use of drugs and factors in their
lives that could lead to drug use, including depression, peer pressure, and
an unstable family life. “Essentially, you’re creating a prison-like
atmosphere where students filled with fear and mistrust of authority,” says
Dr. Gottfredson of the University of Maryland. Trust is also jeopardized
when teachers, administrators, and coaches act as confidants in some
circumstances and are forced to be police in others. Schools need to strive
to create an environment where students feel welcomed, safe, and trusted.
Waste of Valuable School Financial Resources
The second argument for the removal of mandatory drug testing at the
high school level is mandatory drug testing is a waste of valuable school
financial resources. Currently, it costs the NCAA $2.9 million on testing
its athletes annually, while Oklahoma State University spends between
$25,000 and $30,000 to tests their athletes each year. These figures
include the extra costs it takes for drug tests that are able to detect
steroid use and are comparable to the figures it costs an average school
district to test their student athletes and extra-curricular participates
with tests that cannot detect steroid use. Today, drug testing costs school
districts an average of $42 per student tested, which amounts to $21,000
for a school district testing 500 students. This figure is for the initial
drug test alone.
Beyond the initial costs of drug testing, there are other long-term
operational and administrative costs. The process of dealing with a
positive test is often times fairly long and involved. A second test must
be administered to rule out a false positive result. After the second test
a treatment and follow up testing plan has to be in place. Other costs
associated with student drug testing include: monitoring students’
urination for accurate samples, documenting, bookkeeping, compliance with
confidentiality requirements, and tort or other insurance to protect a
school district from potential lawsuits associated with their drug testing
Sometimes costs for student drug testing far exceeds the benefits the
tests produce. Over the past year the Oak Mountain school district in
suburban Birmingham, Alabama conducted roughly between 2,500-3,000 tests on
its 11,000 middle and high school students, at a cost of $65,000. These
tests in return netted fewer than 25 positive test results. That’s an
average cost of $2,600 per a student caught. The same can be said for the
school district of Dublin, Ohio. That school district netted only 11
students who tested positive, those results ended up costing the district
$35,000 (Appendix A). The cost of drug testing can exceed the total a
district spends on existing drug education, prevention, counseling
programs, and could possible take scarce financial resources away from
other departments. The growing costs of mandatory drug testing of student
athletes and extra-curricular participants can seriously undermine the
original intent of the drug test.
Potential Barrier to Joining Extra-Curricular Activities
The third argument for the removal of mandatory drug testing at the
high school level is that mandatory drug testing may be a potential barrier
to joining extra-curricular activities. Research has shown an increase in
juvenile crime and adolescent drug use occurs during unsupervised hours
between the end of classes and the parents returning form work, usually
between 3 P.M. and 6 P.M. Research and studies have also proven that
students who participate in extra-curricular activities, including
athletics are less likely to develop substance abuse problems, less likely
to engage in dangerous behaviors, and more likely to stay in school, earn
higher grades, and achieve higher education goals. The reasons for these
results are that extra-curricular activities usually fill the time between
when school releases and when the parents return home in the evening and
students are in contact with teachers, coaches, or peers that help identify
and address problematic drug use.
Since the Supreme Court ruled in the cases of Veronia v. Acton and
BOE v. Earls, many school districts who perform drug testing has seen a
decrease in participation of students involved in extra-curricular
activities. The reason is simple; student drug testing is usually aimed at
student athletes and participates in extra-curricular activities, because
drug testing an entire student body is considered unconstitutional by the
Supreme Court. The other reason school districts are seeing a reduction in
participation of extra-curricular activities are concerns of the
invasiveness of the tests and the violation of ones privacy.
The Tulia Independent School District in Texas is an example of a
school district that has seen a reduction in participation of extra-
curricular activities and a rise in lawsuits regarding privacy issues,
since it began a drug-testing program. One female student explained: “I
know lots of kids who don’t want to get into sports and stuff because they
don’t want to get drug tested. That’s one of the reasons I’m not into any
activity. Cause…I’m on medication, so I would always test positive, and
then they would have to ask me about my medication, and I would be
embarrassed. And what if I’m on my period? I would be too embarrassed.” In
the Gardner v. Tulia Independent School District case, a Texas District
Court ruled that the school drug testing policy violated students Fourth
Amendment rights, but the policy was upheld because of the precedence set
forth by the United States Supreme Court.
Results From False Positives
The forth argument for the removal of mandatory drug testing at the
high school level is that results from false positives could punish
innocent students. A positive drug test could be a possibly devastating
accusation for an innocent student. Currently, the most widely used drug
test by school districts is the urinalysis test, primarily because of its
low cost per test. The problem with this test is it may falsely accuse
students of being drug abusers, because the test has trouble distinguishing
between drug metabolites that have closely similar structures. Some
examples of potential problems are: over the counter decongestants may
produce positive results for amphetamines, codeine can produce a positive
result for heroine, and the consumption of food products with poppy seeds
can produce a positive result for opiates. Hair follicle tests have also
come under scrutiny. There has been no formal study or research to prove
any bias between hair and skin color and results of the test. However,
there are no national standards for labs to follow when testing hair
follicles, like urinalysis tests have. Without federal uniformed standards
in testing hair follicles, there is no complete way to rule out false
In an effort to eliminate the chances of false positives, school
districts often ask their students to identify their prescription
medications before administering a drug test. This cause a couple of
problems, it first compromises a students’ privacy rights, then it creates
a burden for school districts to make sure a students’ private information
is safely guarded. An example of this problem happened at Tecumseh High
School in Oklahoma when it first enacted its drug-testing program. A choir
teacher at the high school looked at students’ prescription drug lists and
carelessly left the information on their desk, where other students could
see it. Also, results of positive tests were handed out to 13 faculty
members at a time. Carelessness and the school environment, which is prone
to leaks, can lead to the violation of students’ privacy rights and costly
The final argument for the removal of mandatory drug testing at the
high school level is that mandatory drug testing of student athletes and
extra-curricular participants can cause several unintended consequences.
One of these consequences is that students may turn to drugs that cannot be
detected by tests currently be used by schools today. These drugs include
Ecstasy, inhalants, or alcohol. These drugs in the long run could cause
greater harm to the students and the community as a whole because they are
not being detected by drug testing. Alcohol is a great example of this,
because it is the most commonly abused drug by teenagers and commonly
involved in teen drug related deaths.
Another unintended consequence of mandatory drug testing is students
may try to outsmart the test. Students who may fear testing positive on a
test may try to find methods or products to cheat the test. If a student
were to perform a search on the Internet, they would find links to websites
selling drug-free replacement urine, herbal detoxifiers, hair follicle
shampoo, and other products all designed to help someone cheat current drug
tests. An example of one of theses web sites is www.ureasample.com, where a
student can order drug-free urine and a kit to insert the urine into the
body. In addition students may try to make a mockery of drug testing
programs. In one school district in Louisiana, students facing a hair
follicle test shaved all their head and body hair.
Finally, students learn that they are guilty until proven innocent.
Under the United States Constitution, people are presumed innocent until
proven guilty and they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Mandatory
drug testing takes both of theses rights away from students. A student is
assumed guilty until he or she can provide a clean urine sample. Hans York,
a deputy sheriff Wahkiakum, Washington, sued his local school district
after they tried to force his son to submit to a testing program before
joining the drama club. York, believed that having his son monitored for
normal sounds of urination was not only a violation of his privacy, but
sent him a message that he’s guilty until proven innocent. “As a guy who
puts on a gun everyday to go to work, I can tell you that a lot of the
dialogue stops when you become the police.”
The Kantian approach states that people should not be used as a means
to an end and universal principles should be adopted to protect human
freedom and reason.
The existential approach begins with the notion that human values are
ultimately a function of human freedom. Once restrictions of society are
lifted, giving us freedom, are actions are deemed endorsement to ethical
The Rawlsian approach states that ethical decisions should be made
behind the “veil of Ignorance.” A decision produced by all parties involved
who ignore his or her current status and view the issue to the degree of
what would be best for the weakest member of society.
Rule Utilitarianism Approach
The utilitarianism approach aims at producing the greatest happiness
for the greatest number of people. A rule utilitarian would ask, for a
specific ethical issue, “Which general action-guiding rule has been shown
by history to create the greatest happiness?”
Also, by using the risk-cost-benefit-analysis, one would find the risks of
litigation, from privacy issues and false positive test results, and the
costs for the drug testing program; far outweigh the benefits a high school
receives for testing its athletes or students involved in extra-curricular
activities (Appendix A).
Objections and Rebuttals
Collegiate and Professional Levels
Some proponents of mandatory drug testing at the high school level
would argue that sports at the collegiate and professional levels have
mandatory drug testing policies in place, why shouldn’t there be testing at
the high school level. Currently, all NCAA Division I, II, and III student
athletes are subject to mandatory drug testing by both the NCAA and by
their schools. The testing program ensures a fair playing field, protects
the credibility of the sport, and tracks student athletes in danger of
using drugs. The testing program by the NCAA also has proven to be
successful in decreasing the amount of drug abuse by collegiate athletes. A
2001 study conducted by the NCAA revealed that 17% of the athletes surveyed
said the threat of failing a drug test discourage them from using banned
substances. The survey also showed a decrease of steroid use to 3% among
Most of the professional sport leagues in the United States have
mandatory drug testing policies in place. The Olympics also tests all their
athletes for illegal substances before competition. Their policies are in
place for the same reasons the NCAA has drug testing.
Collegiate and professional athletes should be subject to mandatory
drug testing because they are both being “paid to play” Collegiate athletes
are on scholarships or receive preferred treatment (walk-ons) from their
respective universities. Theses scholarships can cover tuition, housing,
books, and possibly stipends for the athletes. Since the universities are
providing compensation for the student athletes, then the student athletes
should be subject to policies that a university has in place and are
Professional athletes like collegiate athletes are being paid to
play, except they receive income for participating in competition. Since
they to are being “paid to play,” they should be subject to policies of
their organization and their league. Also with the commercialization of
sports in this country, these athletes are seen as role models in society
and their actions can and sometimes do, dictate those of society.
Prevention and Protection
The second objection to the removal of mandatory drug testing at the
high school level is that mandatory drug testing is necessary at the high
school level to prevent and protect students and athletes from drug abuse.
A recent survey showed that steroid use among teenagers has rapidly
increased over the last few years. This increase is both shown in athletes
looking to gain an edge over competition and students not involved in
athletics, in attempts to appear more buff.
School districts have an obligation to protect the health and safety
of their students. When it comes to protecting their students they do this
in several ways and one being mandatory drug testing. Some school districts
see mandatory drug testing as a deterrent to drug use. Robert Weiner,
former spokesperson for the White House Office of National Drug Control
Policy said, “The majority of kids support drug testing because it gives
them an excuse to say no to drugs.” Drug testing also helps school
districts to identify and help those students taking drugs. Other students
say the fear of being caught by drug testing has deterred their use of
Current research has shown that education and drug awareness have a
greater impact on preventing teen drug use than mandatory drug testing
does. Mandatory drug testing is also a barrier to participation of extra-
curricular activities which research has proven to be a deterrent to teen
drug abuse. Students who might already be at risk of using drugs might be
discourage from joining extra-curricular activities that could have a good
impact on their lives. Also students who are already engaged in extra-
curricular activities may feel mistrusted and may set back the positive
social development the student has under gone as a result of extra-
Finally, a recent study published in the Journal of School Health
showed no evidence that schools engaged in mandatory drug testing were more
effective in deterring drug use than those who didn’t. This study was
conducted by a team of Monitoring the Future researchers and surveyed stats
from 75,000 students in more than 700 schools. Rates at the drug testing
schools and school that didn’t test were virtually identical (Appendix B).
This test alone raises questions on whether mandatory drug testing in high
schools is a wise investment.
Level Playing Field
A third objection to the removal of mandatory drug testing at the
high school level is that mandatory drug testing is necessary at the high
school level to ensure a level playing field among athletes. The 2001
Monitoring the Future study, showed an increase of steroid use between the
8th and 12th grades. The tend also suggests that these adolescents perceive
steroids as a harmless way of bulking up and are unaware of the long term
health risks involved with steroid abuse. Steroid use is also seen a
dramatic increase in the southern states. A 2001 survey conducted by the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 11.2% of high school
boys in Louisiana and 5.7% of high school girls in Tennessee use steroids.
With the current trend of rising steroid users among adolescents,
some student athletes want mandatory drug testing to ensure a level playing
field. Ed Boos, supervisor of prevention, health, and wellness for the Polk
County School District in Florida, said he has heard from student athletes
that support steroid testing because of the unfair advantage of performance
enhancing drugs give to those who use them.
To date only a handful school districts perform tests that can detect
the use of steroids. One school district that does is the wealthy Paradise
Valley School District in Phoenix, Arizona. They randomly administer $50
urinalysis tests to students participating in everything from football to
badminton. Most of the tests conducted by other school districts only test
for the five basic drugs. The reason why school districts do not test for
steroids is the costs per test. A reliable steroid test can cost between
$50 and $100 and that is for the test alone, it does not include the
collecting and handling of the test. Few schools are willing to spend that
kind of money on extra tests.
A fourth objection to the removal of mandatory drug testing at the
high school level is mandatory drug testing of athletes and extra-
curricular participants at the high school level was ruled to be
constitutional by the United States Supreme Court. In the 1995 ruling in
the Veronia v. Acton case and the 2002 ruling in the Pottawatomie v. Earls
case the Supreme Court established precedent for the testing of student
athletes and extra-curricular participants at the high school level.
In the Veronia v. Acton and Pottawatomie v. Earls the Supreme Court
ruled it was constitutional to test student athletes and participants in
extra-curricular activities. However, the court did not say that schools
are required to test those involved in competitive extra-curricular
activities, drug testing of the entire student body or groups outside of
competitive extra-curricular activities was constitutional, it is
constitutional to drug test elementary students, it is constitutional to
test by means other than urinalysis, and schools are protected from
lawsuits under their respective state law.
When the Supreme Court made its rulings they were interpreting
federal law, however school districts are also subject to state law, which
may provide greater protection for student privacy rights. Privacy laws
vary greatly from state to state and in many states the law has yet to be
In several states including: Arkansas, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan,
Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Washington, lawsuits have been filed
against school districts for their drug testing policies. These school
districts could spend thousands of taxpayers’ dollars and several years
fighting lawsuits that have no guarantee of victory.
What Is Being Done?
Currently, the NCAA conducts test on their athletes annually. The
NCAA visits each university once a year and tests three or four varsity
teams. The universities are then left up to test their athletes at their
discretion. The NCAA also randomly tests their athletes at NCAA
championship events and before all football bowl games. Institutions that
have been randomly selected are notified by the NCAA 48 hours before the
testing is to be performed. The tests are conducted by the National Center
for Drug Free Sport. Any athlete that tests positives may lose their
eligibility for a year. The athlete could possibly lose his or her
scholarship depending on the policy set forth by his or her institution.
In the National Basketball Association, rookie players are tested up
to four times a season. Veterans are subject to one test and that takes
place during training camp. The NBA prohibits the use of amphetamines,
cocaine, LSD, opiates, PCP, marijuana, and steroids. Any player who tests
positive on a drug test can face anywhere from game suspensions to a
In the National Football League, steroid use is banned. Players are
randomly drug tested and those who test positive could face game
There is no mandatory drug testing policy in the National Hockey
League. Mandatory drug testing is only conducted on players that are
currently in the league’s substance abuse aftercare program. Players who
are abusers can seek help the first time with facing exposure or
In boxing, policies vary from state to state, though most do not test
boxers. The state of Nevada began testing boxers in 2002 for use of illegal
steroids. Using the urinalysis test samples are checked for 25 different
Currently the Professional Golf Association does not test its
athletes for performance enhancing drugs. The reason for this is there has
been no evidence that performance-enhancing drugs can improve a player’s
game. However, they will begin to test for unfair clubs next year.
Major League Baseball has come under scrutiny lately for its drug
testing policy. Starting next year all players will be tested for steroids.
The first time a player tests positive, he will be placed in a treatment
program. For any subsequent positive tests the player will be fined between
$10,000 and $100,000 and could be suspended from 30 days to a year without
pay. Testing of all players will continue until positive tests drop below
2.5% in two consecutive years.
At the high school level a national survey conducted six years after
the Veronia v. Acton ruling showed only 5% of school districts have
mandatory drug testing policies for student athletes, and only 3% for extra-
curricular participants. The survey indicated that mandatory drug testing
was most common in rural school districts. It also showed that no school
district tests all their students and none of the ten largest school
systems in the United States have mandatory drug testing policies in place.
Also, currently no school district tests for anabolic steroids, primarily
because of the costs of tests. The justification for mandatory drug testing
in school districts vary from school to school as much as drug testing
policies themselves, but most school districts that decide not to test
their students acknowledge that money is more wisely spent on education,
counseling, and treatment.
Today, several state legislatures have tabled or defeated bills that
would allow mandatory drug testing in high schools over concerns of privacy
confidentiality, liability issues, and the overall effectiveness of drug
testing programs. In other states, steroid abuse seems to be the hot topic
of debate. In Florida, state representative Marcelo Llorente is pushing a
bill that would require counties to test a percentage of their high school
athletes for steroids. In California, state Senator Jackie Speier has
introduced legislation to ban the sale of supplements such as ANDRO to
teens. She is also pushing for the state to focus on statewide testing of
high school athletes for steroids and supplements.
The federal government has also stepped up its efforts in the prevention
of steroid abuse. Congress has introduced several bills to aid in this
growing epidemic. The first bill introduced was to direct the National
Institute of Standards and Technology to establish a program to support
research and training in new methods of detecting the use of performance-
enhancing drugs by athletes and for other purposes. The second bill was
designed to clarify a definition of anabolic steroids and to provide
funding fund for steroid research and education. Finally the last bill was
designed to give Major League Baseball a wake up call to improve their drug
testing policies or Congress would step in and improve the policies for
President George W. Bush also stepped up his drug policies for the
upcoming election year. During this years State of the Union address,
President Bush proposed to expand federal monies for school drug testing
programs more than tenfold, to $23 million. During his speech, the
President called drug testing the “silver bullet” that would eliminate teen
drug use. The Presidents Office of National Drug Control Policy said part
of the new money would go towards the study of a nationwide expansion of
testing. President Bush’s justification for this use of this new federal
money is the reduction of teen drug use the past two years and arguing that
drug testing in schools were an effective part in the decrease.
What Should Be Done?
There are several things we can do to decrease the use of drugs among
teenagers. The first step would be the removal of mandatory drug testing at
the high school level. Mandatory drug testing has proven to be a: negative
effect on the classroom or team, waste of valuable school financial
resources, potential barrier to joining extra-curricular activities, false
positive result could punish an innocent student. and could produce several
unintended consequences. Another reason for the removal of mandatory drug
testing at the high school level is that research has shown that the drug
testing policies have no real effect on deterring teen drug use.
Money that was to be spent on drug testing should go into other means
of drug prevention such as: counselors, anti-drug campaigns or education,
drug awareness programs for athletes, and training for coaches, teachers,
and administrators to help with spotting potential drug abusers. Teenagers
are not like pilots or military personnel that will confine to drug
screening. Teenagers rebel against authority and someone is forcing them to
be tested they will rebel against the school district.
The second step to reducing teenage drug use is stricter drug
policies at the professional level of athletics, especially in Major League
Baseball. Professional athletes are seen as role models for today’s youth.
If a teenager sees an athlete using performance enhancing drugs or steroids
to improve themselves, they may see that as a sign that those drugs aren’t
potentially dangerous. An example of this happened when Mark McGwire broke
the home run record and admitted to using ANDRO. Almost immediately ANDRO
sales rose and most of the consumers were teenagers looking to get an edge
over their competition.
Finally, the third step to reducing teenage drug use is federal
government increase its efforts in more productive manners. Congress need
to continue to pass bills that allowing funding for research of better
techniques of finding drug abuses. Congress also needs to step in and crack
down on steroid and performance enhancing drug use. The first step is to
come up with a solid definition of performance enhancing drugs, then put in
place measures to prevent the use of them by athletes and teenagers.
President Bush needs to spend the money he proposed to spend on drug
testing for more effective ways of prevention like drug education and
research to find more reliable and less invasive way of testing for drugs.
President Bush also needs to step up and address the nation on the dangers
of performance enhancing drugs and steroids. The President also needs to
encourage the American people to voice their opinions and force stricter
drug testing policies at the professional levels of sports.
After researching mandatory drug testing, it has become apparent that
mandatory drug testing in schools is an issue that needs to be addressed.
It not only affects adolescents who must go through the tests, but it
affects teachers, coaches, administrators, the school district, parents,
and society as a whole. Mandatory drug testing has been proven valuable in
the work place, collegiate athletics, and professional athletics. However,
mandatory drug testing has proven to be a costly tool that is not effective
in a middle or high school environment. Therefore, local, state, and
federal authorities must work to ensure theses types of tests remain out of
the school system. It is also the duty of the government to continue to
educate teenagers, both students and athletes, about the dangers of drug
abuse. The government also has an obligation to continue funding research
to find new and effective ways of reducing drug abuse.
1. Dlouhy, Jennifer. “House Bill to Combat Use of New Steroid-Like Drugs
Judiciary Panel.” CQ Weekly. 816. 3 Apr. 2004. (Apr. 2004)
2. Dunn, Andrew. “SCHOOL MAY ALSO TEST FOR STEROIDS; EXPANSION OF
DRUG SCREENING.” The Ledger 2 Apr. 2004
3. Floersheim, Ryan. “NCAA drug testing levels playing field.” Daily LOBO
9 Apr. 2004.
4. Gloster, Rob. “High Schools Struggling With Steroid Use.” Associated
25 Mar. 2004.
5. Gloster, Rob. “For many high schools, tests for steroids are to
Associated Press 25 Mar. 2004.
6. Gunja, Fatema., Alexandra Cox., Marsha Rosenbaum, PhD., and Judith
Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators are Saying No.
ACLU, Jan. 2004
7. Hatcher, Donald. Science, Ethics, and Technological Assessment. 3rd Edt.
American Press, Boston, Massachusetts 2001.
8. Johnson, Alicia. “NCAA Drug tests a success.” District Chronicles 3 Oct.
9. Koch, Kathy. “Drug Testing.” CQ Researcher. 8.43. 20 Nov. 1998. (Apr.
10. Leshanski, Jonathan. “Baseball Needs A Real Drug Policy.” At Home
Plate. 18 Nov.
2003. (Apr. 2004) http://www.athomeplate.com/drugs2.shtml.
11. Leshanski, Jonathan. “MLB’s Drug Problem.” At Home Plate. 23 Jun. 2003.
(Apr. 2004) http://www.athomeplate.com/drug.shtml.
12. Locy, Tony. “High courts OKs drug testing for students.” USA Today.
13. Louria, Donald. “Mandatory Drug Testing of High School Athletes:
Evaluation, Unethical Policy.” American Journal of Bioethics (Winter
14. Luna, Erik. “What is Legal Is Not Necessarily Ethical: The Limits of
Drug-Testing Programs.” American Journal of Bioethics (Winter 2004):
15. Masci, David. “Preventing Teen Drug Use.” CQ Researcher.12.10 15 Mar.
(Apr. 2004) http://library.cqpress.com/cqreseacher/document.html.
16. McLure, Jason. “Guilty Until Proven Innocent.” Newsweek. 25 Feb. 2004.
(Apr. 2004) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4375351/.html.
17. Rosenbaum, Marsha. “Save Your Time and Money; Random Testing Doesn’t
Fresno Bee. 18 Mar. 2004.
18. Slater, Jim. “PGA will test for unfair clubs but not for doped
Agence France Presse 6 Nov. 2003.
19. Toland, Jennifer. “Test finds cheaters among college athletes.”
Worcester Telegram &Gazette 28 Mar. 2004.
20. Associated Press. “Anti-drug chief rips MLB plan.” MSNBC. 2004. (Apr.
Monitoring the Future: a continue study of American youth. 11 Feb. 2004.
Of the University of Michigan, Ann arbor, MI 48109 (Apr 2004)
21. National Institute of Drug Abuse. NIDA Community Drug Alert Bulletin –
Steroids. Apr. 2000. 11 Apr 2004
22. Oxford English Dictionary. 2004. Oxford University Press. 4 Apr. 2004
“Student Drug Testing: Relevant Case Law.” 21 Oct. 2002. American Civil
Union. 22 Apr. 2004. http://www.aclu.org/news/.
23. “Sports Law: Drug Use in Sports.” FindLaw Sports. 11 Apr. 2004
“What the Experts Say on Student Drug Testing.” 15 Mar. 2002. American
Liberties Union. 22 Apr. 2004. http://www.aclu.org/news/.
“Why Parents and Other Adults Should Care About Drug Testing: Some
Answers.” Drug Policy Alliance. 22 Apr. 2004.
24. “Win Without Steroids.” About The Sport. 9 Apr. 2004
25. United States Congress. A Bill. 11 Apr. 2004