SDSU athletic drug testing goes beyond NCAA

By Pat Bowden Reporter

No more than four times a year, the athletics department randomly testsl athletes, no matter the sport, for drug usage – and with the intent focused on helping athletes through addictions rather than on just punishing those with a drug problem, they will help the athlete through the remedy process with treatment and counseling.

        Aside from the NCAA deciding to test athletes, student athletes aren’t tested more than four times a semester for drug usage by the school, unless there is a reason of suspicion and they search the athlete for drugs, according to the assistant of athletics department and director of sports medicine Owen Stanley.

       “We don’t like to treat them as penalties; we’re not trying to catch them we’re just trying to see if there are any drug or alcohol dependencies out there,” Stanley said. “We’ll sit down with the senior admin and the athlete and we will have them set up with counseling and, from there on out they’re [the athlete] on the list where we can randomly test them throughout the year.”

       Controversially, some athletes feel that testing could be done more often or checked more randomly.

       “ I think that athletes could be checked more often. During my five years here only a few people I know have been tested,” senior mechanical engineering major and women’s basketball player Megan Waytashek said.

       The understanding leniency of these choices isn’t stretched too extensively, however, as a student athlete will be suspended for 10% of their competitive season if found using twice, and indefinitely if there is a third offense. After this, athletes face more severe problems.

       “[After a second offense, the students] possibly go further and work with mental health or whatever avenue would work best …we treat for the health and well being of the student and try to fix why they’re where they are,” said Stanley.

       Athletes don’t see these penalties as too harsh, as they are aware of the consequences.

       “The athletic department informs each sport every year on the rules and protocol of drug testing and substance abuse so that we are always aware of them, and to help make sure we do not encounter problems that would jeopardize our eligibility,” Waytashek said. “I think that the penalties are as they should be. Athletes should know that their eligibility is at stake if they risk abusing substances or using drugs.”

       Being caught using drugs can affect an athlete’s future of becoming professional, or even an athlete’s ability to get accepted by other schools for playing sports.

       “It [drug usage history] is on the radar of those professional scouts, but it depends on the level of the scout. There is some leniency on that where as your first or second time might be a red flag, but no more than that,” Stanley said.

       Along with hurting athlete’s chances of going pro, having drug history can make getting a non-sports related job difficult as well.

       “It would definitely hinder their chances. A history of drugs would not only affect an athlete’s chance of going pro, but also anyone in general who is applying for jobs or trying to enter industry,” Waytashek said.

       Historically, SDSU hasn’t been known to eject many student athletes because of drug usage due to the anti-drug policies implemented, and some go as far to assume that SDSU is lower than the national average of athlete drug abuse.

       “Prior to my arrival I don’t know much [history on drug usage,] I think that from my other institutions that, here, it’s minimal – if not non-existent,” Stanley said. “I would think what we’re doing in house is pretty good, the usage of the student athlete body here is low … the athletes [here] are usually high quality individuals.”

       Stanley believes that the nationally growing trend of marijuana legalization, as well as other drugs, may open some avenues for athletes and other students as well.

       “Every decade has its’ drug of abuse, and now that marijuana is being legalized in places, those doors are opening. Our real issue is getting synthetic drugs off the street because it’s a chemical basin so we’re seeing an influx of overdoses and being able to get that handled and taken care of on college campuses,” Stanley said.

       Other drugs that may not seem harmful, such as caffeine, are also frowned upon by athletics, as any drug used to “get an edge” doesn’t pay off in the long run, according to Stanley, who said, “I think it’s something we can attack on the mental health side of it.”