Drug Testing Brought to a New Level

Drug Testing Brought to a New Level
Posted by FoM on September 18, 2000 at 21:24:07 PT
By Jessica Portner
Source: Washington Post
Public schools in Hoover, Ala., will begin testing student athletes for tobacco and alcohol use this week, under a controversial new policy that stretches student drug testing beyond the traditional focus of hard drugs. Secondary students in the suburban district outside Birmingham will be thrown off the football team or the cheerleading squad not only for using such drugs as cocaine, marijuana, barbiturates, or heroin. Under the plan adopted unanimously by the school board in June, taking one puff on a cigarette or drinking a beer at a party could get them banished from sports.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court in 1995 gave all districts the green light to test athletes for drug use, more than 100 districts in 20 states have required students to take urine tests to play sports or participate in extracurricular activities.But only a few districts have opted to screen student athletes for tobacco and alcohol use. Hoover is believed to be the only district in Alabama to do so.'Gateway Drug'"Tobacco is the gateway drug that leads to all the other problems," argued Ron Swann, the athletic director for the 10,000-student district. "This policy is to give student athletes a deterrent so that when they are tempted at a party, they have an excuse not to smoke," he said.A host of health problems, including emphysema, asthma, and lung cancer, are associated with smoking cigarettes, Mr. Swann pointed out. Moreover, it's illegal in Alabama for a person younger than 19 to use tobacco products or consume alcohol, he added.Under the policy, Hoover officials will test a random selection of 250 athletes who play on the district's 22 sports teams in grades 7 through 12. Students will be tested at the beginning of the season-as they are this week-and then a small number of students will be tested every other week on random days throughout the year.An independent company will collect urine samples and screen each student for 10 substances, including cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines, barbiturates, and heroin. To test for tobacco, the contractor will screen for cotitine, a substance that remains in the metabolism after nicotine exposure.At $25 to $30 a test, Mr. Swann estimates the program will cost the district $50,000 a year to conduct a total of 1,500 tests. If students are caught once, they will be suspended from 25 percent of games; a second time, they will be suspended from sports for the semester; the third time, they will be benched for the whole school year.Arthur Spitzer, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer based in Washington, criticized the district's policy last week, describing it as the latest move by schools to invade students' privacy. "What kids do away from school is not a school's business," he asserted.The ACLU has long opposed any kind of drug testing and continues to battle such policies in state courts. Mr. Spitzer said the Hoover policy was particularly troubling because the argument that smoking cigarettes would endanger players' safety was specious. Unlike using such drugs as cocaine and barbiturates, he argued, smoking cigarettes doesn't necessarily "disable" someone from excelling in sports."Although it's a dirty habit, millions smoke tobacco, and professional athletes have smoked and chewed tobacco for generations, and so it seems ridiculous to say if a teen smokes a cigarette, he is a danger to himself or others," Mr. Spitzer said.In the 1995 case, the Supreme Court cited safety as a reason for allowing athletes to be tested.'We Are Serious'Dr. Richard Schwartz, a pediatrician at Inova Hospital for Children in Falls Church, Va., and an expert on adolescent drug use, pointed out that drug tests can be easy to circumvent."There must be 10 advertisements a month in the magazine High Times for products to adulterate urine," he said.In addition, he said, "because alcohol is going to be out of your system in a few hours even if you're totally drunk, you aren't going to find it in your urine. For tobacco, it's out in eight to 12 hours," Dr. Schwartz said.Hoover school officials said the policy was not prompted by unusually high levels of cigarette use by students.A recent district survey of the school system's one high school found that 50 percent of seniors said they had smoked a cigarette in the past 30 days-about the national average.As he was preparing his athletes for the tests last week, Mr. Swann, the athletic director, seemed confident the policy would have a positive effect."We want students to know we are serious," he said. "This isn't going to be something you can beat."Provided By Education Week Monday, September 18, 2000  2000 Editorial Projects in Education Mentioned Web Sites:A.C.L.U. Times Magazine Drug Testing Archives:
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on September 19, 2000 at 20:06:54 PT
I have always wondered
Hi Lysergic,Interesting name! I've always wondered how athletes did all the things they do without some help along the way. I read that McCaffrey wanted to test Chess Players. I couldn't believe it but I did!Peace, FoM!Here's the link.
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Comment #8 posted by Lysergic on September 19, 2000 at 17:51:00 PT:
Me three!
I was on the 3200m relay team for a state champion track team and I smoked pot occassionally,as well as used lsd and mdma. Almost everyone else on the team (in high school, period) liked smoking pot every once in a while. I also read a lot of books and finished second in my class academically, so these drug warriors can take their burned out druggies steriotypes and stick it where the sun dont shine ;)
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on September 19, 2000 at 17:28:06 PT:
Me Too!
Hi Freedom Fighter,I too took good diet pills like Black Beauties years ago and competed in cross country riding (horse) events. It was great. I wonder if many athletes do a drug and not think much about it like I did way back when?Peace, FoM!
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Comment #6 posted by freedom fighter on September 19, 2000 at 17:21:39 PT
I was a State football champ!
and I smoked pot and cigarettes. I even took a black beauty once playing a game.(I do not suggest one should do that!)Boy, I was so good that I once had 11 QB sacks in one game.Our team won 11 games and lost none..And I do read books.Tell me to do a pee test, I will gladly do so but please understand I am going to throw the piss   your face if you dare ask me to do so.
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Comment #5 posted by Lehder on September 19, 2000 at 07:11:16 PT
Just Say No
The Drug War Ideology, for those unfortunates who are susceptible, irreparably alters and then closes the mind. It is a closed system of thought-slogans with no basis in reality and whose arguments can make reference only to itself. It has no useful application, throws no light on social behavior, and nothing can be derived from it other than its original, groundless axioms: "Drugs are bad. Drugs destroy society. Only government can prevent people from taking drugs. Everyone is suspect." With absolutely nothing of utility to offer, the drug warrior's ideology can have as its only activity the incessant demand for loyalty oaths and forced demonstrations of adherence. It demands a pee-tested, simpering conformity that will never be realized so long as a single sentient being remains on the planet. The fact that the unfortunate warriors of Hoover, Alabama feel it necessary to seek justification for their ideology by imposing a humiliating obescience on CHILDREN who are barely yet capable of reason only demonstrates the desperate bankruptcy of their thought system. I would say to these kids and their parents: Get real. Just say NO. If necessary, piss on sports. Read a book. You might start with "Making Sense of Tyranny" by Simon Tormey. Because reality destroys ideology.
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Comment #4 posted by Rainbow on September 19, 2000 at 06:48:12 PT
pushing the envelope
They have been listenning as we ask for this type of action.The results could be more prohibition - alcohol and tobacco. A complete awareness of the stupidity of the government and their attempts are legislating morals.This is a good thing for the cause. They are getting desparate and their hypocracies are being taken to the extreme.I find this quite humourous.CheersRainbow
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Comment #3 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on September 19, 2000 at 03:36:58 PT:
What About the Money, Stupid?
$50,000 buys a lot of books. How do you think this school system is doing academically?
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Comment #2 posted by Phyro on September 19, 2000 at 02:03:32 PT
  What ?????????????
 What you folk's that are on this School board THINKING ?   If the docters think Pot,MJJ,Marijuana can help what have you all been taking/injecting/smoking ??? Well if you have aney left please Dont share with others....
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Comment #1 posted by coach boot camp on September 18, 2000 at 22:19:10 PT
kicking the kids off the sports team?
aren't these the same kids that need help with sports-? i say make these bad kids give me 20 and a few laps of the track, it would do more good 
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