The Importance Of Drug Testing In College

Athletics Essay, Research Paper

The Importance of Drug Testing in Collegiate Athletics

Athletics have existed in our world since the beginning of the human race. The spirit of competition has inspired many men to push their bodies to the utmost limits in an effort to excel to the highest possible levels for their respective sports. This immense desire for athletic perfection has driven some athletes to seek an unfair edge over their competition. This advantage comes in the way of illegal performance enhancing drugs. The topic of steroids and similar drugs has been very popular in the news media in the past decade. We have witnessed many heroes stripped of their pride after a drug test rendered them ineligible to compete. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has been forced to tighten the rules governing drug use among its athletes. These regulations do not stop at merely outlawing “performance enhancers”, but also restrict the use of narcotics such as marijuana. The NCAA has taken a positive stand in an effort to keep college athletes from falling victim to the plague that many of our professional athletes have succumb to.

It is essential that the National Collegiate Athletic Association continue its excellent anti-doping campaign in order to rid college sports of the recent rash of drug use amongst its athletes.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association currently employs Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis s (IUPUI) medical science building to perform the bulk of its urine based drug testing. This laboratory also handles the testing of urine samples for the United States Olympic Committee and the National Football League. The NCAA did not begin using this specific site until after the Pan American Games of 1987 which were held in Indianapolis. This major collegiate governing body sends approximately 6,000 urine specimens to this location each year. The medical center screens these samples for any substance deemed to be illegal by the NCAA. These doping agents may include anything from anabolic steroids to marijuana or other narcotic substances. Frank Uryasz is the director of sports sciences for the NCAA, and with this position comes the responsibility of overseeing the administration of drug testing. He feels as though the affiliation with the medical center at IUPUI is essential to the NCAA s drug testing campaign, It s a national resource when it comes to our national anti-doping efforts. Working with them has been a wonderful experience for us. (Horgan, 1998, p. 1).

The urinalyses that are performed can be quite expensive. The tests can detect a total of 180 different compounds from a mere half-ounce urine specimen. The cost however per procedure runs $120 for standard steroid screening and $180 for the full detection of all illegal agents. The NCAA feels as though the benefits of drug testing far outweigh the expenses incurred in order to subsidize these costly procedures. The lab in Indianapolis operates on an astounding $1.5 million annual budget. The testing center owns 10 gas chromatograph mass spectrometers (GCMS), each coming with a price tag of $90,000. Larry Bowers, the director of the laboratory at IUPIU expresses that there is little profit involved in a business like his. The equipment is very expensive and the fact of the matter is there is not a lot of money to be made in the business. That s not a good match. It s really a difficult area to get into. There aren t a lot of margins. (Horgan, 1998, p. 2)

In top level athletics there can be insurmountable pressures to use performance-enhancing drugs. Many reports have shown that the drug use begins with the particular coach s encouragement. A prime example occurs in the track and field community. Since times and distances are measurable objective amounts, improved results will be noticed directly in an individual athlete s scores. If a given athlete uses “performance-enhancers” and drastically improves, than his competitors must also use these illegal means of advancement in order to be competitive with the initial doper . This type of scenario is very noticeable in some sports. However, it has been shown that improvements in virtually every sport can be made with “performance-enhancers”. They allow the athlete to train at a far higher level of intensity, thus allowing the athlete to potentially become bigger, stronger, and faster. These physical gains can prove to aid any college athlete in any sport in which they may compete.

The NCAA is also extremely concerned with the use of narcotics among its athletes. There have been frequent occurrences in the news media of college athletes under the influence of illegal drugs getting into automobile accidents. The instance that was most publicized occurred with a group of University of Michigan basketball players who got into a severe car accident traveling home from a party in the early morning. The involvement of narcotics was soon discovered to be involved with the incident. Robert Traylor, who is now playing professionally in the National Basketball Association, was nearly faced with a career threatening injury. Had he been more seriously hurt, the University of Michigan s insurance provider would have been forced to shell out substantial amounts of money to cover his medical expenses. This potential expense would prove to be quite ironic, as the money could better be invested in drug testing to prevent similar occurrences. Since universities and colleges all across our country are investing millions of dollars to support the education of athletes in the form of scholarships, it is essential that they also invest in the prevention of narcotic usage. The most effective means of prevention has been identified as the actual drug testing. Most athletes who have been found to have willfully exposed themselves to narcotics have chosen to use Marijuana. The chemical in Marijuana that gives the body the effect of being high is known as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). This substance remains in the human system for a period usually between two and three months. This factor makes it quite simple to detect the use of Marijuana among athletes by the simple urinalysis. Other more potent drugs can be detected by the test, but have thankfully been found unpopular among today s college athletes.

It is probably the goal of many college athletes to excel to the level of professional athletics. This puts professional athletes in the position of being role models for their collegiate counterparts. All of today s American professional sports leagues have developed some degree of an anti-doping campaign. It seems however that this effort is aimed at eliminating the use of narcotics as opposed to the use of performance-enhancing chemicals. Androstenedione is essentially a synthetic steroid that is completely legal for players to ingest in Major League Baseball. Baseball s foremost current home-run hitter, Mark McGwire was a tremendous supporter of the drug until he recently terminated his use of the substance because of the controversy it was creating. The NCAA, with its emphatically stringent restrictions, banned Andro as soon as it became available for retail. This did not nearly eliminate the use of Androstenedione among college athletes, as the substance is cleared from the system within a month of termination. Here at Tusculum College, there are dozens of athletes who reported the usage of Andro during the summer. This is quite troubling, as the use of performance-enhancers makes college s athletic playing field “unlevel”. As already stressed, when athletes of a given sport begin using a substance like Andro, there is much pressure for other athletes involved in the same competitions to use the drug. The feeling that an athlete will be unable to compete with the dopers unless they also dope can be quite powerful. Drug use must be eliminated completely among college sports in order to maintain a level of purity in athletics. The NCAA has taken positive steps toward directly accomplishing the latter.

Science is constantly advancing thus allowing for a constant increase in the number of performance-enhancing drugs for athletes. This is a sad fact, but must be recognized in order to maintain the integrity of sports. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has done a commendable job with its progress in the field of drug testing. A prime factor for the pursuit of athletics is to better one s level of personal health, the use of drugs fully contradicts this point. . It is essential that college athletes are tested for both performance-enhancing drugs and illegal narcotics in an effort to preserve the development of collegiate level sports.


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