Summer for student-athletes can be a huge temptation for experimenting with steroids to develop muscle and strength. Student-athletes who are, or have been injured, may look to steroids to shorten their recovery time and the drugs clear an athlete’s system before drug-testing resumes in the fall semester. Often, athletes are not subject to drug-testing in the summer, so they believe they can clear traces of any banned– substance before they return to campus in the fall.
The purpose of any drug-testing program is to deter use, protect the clean athlete, and ensure a level playing field. Summer testing was an obvious expansion of the good and effective drug-testing program in effect during the fall and spring semesters and in 2006, Drug Free Sport began testing a random selection of Division I student-athletes during the summer. The program has expanded to Division II with emphasis on football and baseball participants because they are at a higher risk for abusing performance-enhancing drugs.
Initially, there were many questions about how the student-athletes would be notified, what would happen if the student-athletes were not on campus, etc. In reality, many student-athletes are on campus during the summer, taking classes, working out in facilities, or working in the local community. Student-athletes also must fill out a form before leaving campus in the spring letting Drug Free Sport know where they could be found during the summer.
In the beginning, summer drug-testing was challenging for Drug Free Sport staff because collectors were traveling all over the country to conduct the tests. Some of the top baseball players were playing in summer leagues all over the country and Drug Free Sport staff had to find them. Then Drug Free Sport developed a system, where they would send collectors to summer leagues where a variety of Division I and II student-athletes were located. The collectors spent a week at a summer league focusing on their roster for the random testing rather than focusing on a particular institution.
One example of a successful summer league testing schedule involved the Cape Cod summer baseball league. Testing at the Cape Cod summer league provides the opportunity to test ten teams in five days. When the student-athletes show up for a game, they are notified that they have been selected for a random drug-test. Testing at summer leagues demonstrates the flexibility of the summer program. Drug Free Sport collectors still go to campuses, but the process is much smoother now that a fair number of the testing can be done where the student-athletes are clustered.
Since 2006, the number of student-athletes tested in the summer has increased each year. As schools have become used to summer testing and the Drug Free Sport staff adapted to it, they have been able to increase the numbers.
To inquire about our sport drug-testing services for your organization, please contact us by phone at 816-474-8655.