Ohio State spends $85K yearly to drug test athletes
Published: Monday, February 4, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 10, 2013 18:02
In the aftermath of famous cyclist Lance Armstrong’s doping confession, the Ohio State athletic department vows to remain firm on their drug testing procedures for student-athletes.
“I think that as it has played out, you’re seeing the lengths that he went to in particular to not get caught, and it highlights the need for why we test,” said assistant athletic director Janine Oman. “Our policy is really based around testing and we will continue to test for those very reasons.”
Armstrong confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs in each of his seven straight Tour de France victories in a January interview with Oprah Winfrey, and was stripped of all titles he won from 1999 to 2005 after a United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation.
Oman said every sport is subjected to illegal drug testing in order to protect the integrity and honesty of both the athletes and the university.
“On a whole, we do test usually anywhere from three to four times a week,” Oman said. “We do team-based testing so we have testers on campus every week.”
OSU contracts Aegis Laboratories based in Nashville, Tenn., to conduct the testing. Typically about 2,200 student-athlete drug tests are administered each year, costing the university about from $80,000 to $85,000 annually, Oman said.
Oman would not disclose how many positive tests were returned between 2010 and 2012 due to “privacy issues.”
According to OSU Department of Athletics policies, any use of illegal performance enhancers “gives a student-athlete an unfair advantage and their use constitutes cheating.”
While a student-athlete at the university, individuals might be subject to OSU testing as well as NCAA testing and Big Ten testing. For the testing conducted by the university, “zero notification is the norm,” according to policy guidelines.
The OSU policy further states that if an athlete does test positive for performance-enhancing drugs, he or she will be suspended for the next 25 percent of their respective competitive season play. Upon a second positive testing, the student-athlete “will lose all remaining eligibility and loss of athletic grant-in-aid,” according to the online policy listed online.
In addition to testing for performance enhancers, OSU also tests student-athletes for evidence of other “street drugs” and alcohol abuse. On a first positive, the student-athlete will undergo a supervised management plan to address the issue. Second and third positives might result in a two-week suspension or suspension “for a minimum of one calendar year,” as well as the possible termination of athletic aid.
Rachel Conley, a second-year in health sciences, said the Armstrong case is a “shame,” especially since he was a role model for many. She also said she believes testing for illegal performance enhancers in OSU athletes is important.
“I think it’s good to make sure athletes have the resources they need and people available to look up to and lead them in the right direction,” Conley said. “Obviously testing is the biggest solution and (there should be) severe punishment if they do find it.”
Oman explained that the reason the athletic department does test so frequently is to create a deterrent to the problem.
Amataya Boonyakieat, a third-year in economics, said he has “mixed feelings” about random testing for illegal performance enhancers.
“I’d like to think that athletes would do the best they can on their own, but then I think that human nature says, ‘I want a competitive edge,’ and they’re going to do anything they can to do,” he said.