By Dave Wagner
With steroids becoming a bigger problem at the professional sports level, the NCAA is trying to take more preventative measures to head off potential problems.
Ed Kabrick, athletic trainer at Eastern New Mexico University, said that as of the 2004-05 school year the NCAA randomly tests athletes for the use of “performance-enhancing” drugs. Previously at the Division II level, only football players were tested, he said.
So far, Kabrick said only one football player has tested positive for steroids in his four years at the school. That occurred a couple of years ago, and the player was forced to lose a year of eligibility.
“I think the NCAA drug testing has become a little more rigid, which is a good thing,” he said.
The school itself tests regularly for “street” drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine and the like. Names are thrown into a hat and drawn out.
“(Coaches give) us a list of athletes,” Kabrick said. “We test roughly 10 percent of each team twice a year — once in the fall and once in the spring.
“Penalties are handed down by the coaches in that program. Most of the sports provide a no-tolerance policy — if you fail a drug test, you’re done.”
ENMU athletic director and volleyball coach Mike Maguire said athletes sign a drug-consent form at the beginning of their season, meaning they agree to be tested on a random basis at any time.
Something that might be legal for the average person may be banned by the NCAA, he said.
“Right now, the biggest concern is that kids are going out and, if something is sold in a (health-food) store, they think it’s OK,” Maguire said. “That’s why they all receive a ‘banned drug’ list.”
Kabrick said only a handful — “maybe five or so” — have tested positive for street drugs in his time at ENMU. He said a drug like marijuana may stay in someone’s system for around 30 days and for cocaine, it may only be a couple of days.
“I think every sport told their kids to be smart this week,” Kabrick said, referring to the fact that the school is on spring break. “I’m sure (drug use) goes on at times and we don’t catch them, but we’re not out to ‘get’ anybody.
“It’s a part of the job that can be pretty upsetting. We try to make (testing) as random as we can.”
At the high school level, testing generally involves street drugs at this point, although Portales superintendent James Holloway said as far as performance-enhancing drugs, he believed the firm that does the testing for his district “is capable of testing to that level.”
Holloway said Portales adopted its policy about three years ago from the Ruidoso district and then tweaked it a bit. The policy now includes all extra-curricular activities at the school, not just sports.
“We’re not trying to catch somebody,” he said. “We feel like (the testing) gives the kids a reason to say ‘no.’”
Clovis High athletic director Dale Fullerton said his school also tests for street drugs, testing up to 12 times a year. He said sometimes 10 percent of athletes will be tested, “sometimes more,” by the district’s nursing staff.
“We test them and if it’s positive we send it off to a lab for a second test,” Fullerton said. “What’s good about our test is that if they’re taking steroids, it’ll show (in the test) if they’ve taken something to try to hide it.”
Clovis has been testing for about five years, he said.
“We’ve had marijuana show up (in the past),” he said. “And actually, this year we haven’t had any positive tests.
“I still think the thing you’re going to catch in high school is more likely to be marijuana or cocaine or meth.”