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AP: Testing for PEDs Inconsistent at College Level

Paul Steinbach

The Associated Press has reviewed the policies for performance-enhancing drug testing at 51 American colleges and universities, as well as those of the NCAA and individual conferences, and found little consistency tying them together. School policies vary widely, and while some conferences augment the NCAA's umbrella drug-testing program, others offer nothing in addition to the association's efforts to test athletes on campus and at its own sanctioned events.

The AP requested policy information from 76 schools, including all of those competing in the six BCS conferences, as well as three mid-major programs appearing in the Feb. 28 AP men's basketball poll. Responses were received from 51 institutions. No two policies looked exactly the same.

The University of Florida was found to have one of the most stringent PED policies, forcing athletes who test positive for steroids to miss at least 50 percent of their season. The University of Miami requires a minimum of three urine tests per year and automatic suspension for the first positive result. Last year, a player was dismissed from Miami's baseball team after he was found to be in possession of marijuana and human growth hormone, though none of his teammates tested positive for either.

None of the institutional testing programs reviewed by the AP included the drawing and testing of blood, mainly due to cost (as much as $800 per test). The NCAA doesn't test blood, either, and its lack of no-advance-notice testing and a penalty structure that calls for a mere one-year suspension for a first offense are perceived by some as weak. The NCAA program calls for at least one drug-testing visit to every Division I and Division II campus each school year, during which a number of athletes from various sports can be tested. About 11,000 tests were administered among the 400,000 students-athletes in all divisions under the NCAA's purview in 2008-09, the most recent period for which statistics are available. According to AP national writer Eddie Pells, a new NCAA rule that takes effect in August will require all Division I schools to designate a staff member who can answer questions about dietary supplements and banned drugs.

A recent NCAA survey on drug testing in sports received only tepid response, with 45 percent of roughly 1,000 surveys returned. Among schools that responded, 54 percent reported having their own drug-testing program in place. Fifty-five of the 56 BCS schools that responded said they had testing programs, but only 18 percent of those programs addressed anabolic steroids. The vast majority (99 percent) test only for recreational drugs such as marijuana and cocaine. Street drug testing, too, varies widely among BSC schools, as the sports website Fanhouse reported in December.

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