Local News

Bill Would Mean Random Drug Testing for High School Athletes

Posted February 14, 2007 6:38 p.m. EST
Updated February 15, 2007 7:42 a.m. EST

— A Gaston County lawmaker this week introduced a bill in the state Senate that would require random drug tests for high school athletes.

Dr. James Forrester says the use of performance-enhancing drugs, such as steroids, is becoming "a real public health threat" among high school students. Within the past few years, he says, the number of high school athletes admitting to using steroids has increased 3 percent.

Senate Bill 161 would allocate $50,000 to test students across the state. The bill also bans student athletes from playing if they test positive or refuse to take the test.

"It might just be one in a high school, two in a high school or county that would be tested, but the threat of being tested is enough to deter a lot of students from taking steroids," he said.

But some people, such as Southeast Raleigh High School Athletic Director Gary Powers, say they don't necessarily see the need for testing.

"We run a weight program every day, and we're not seeing it," Powers said. "If it's a problem, I'm just not seeing it. I think our kids are clean, and they're getting stronger by being in the weight room."

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association adds that alcohol -- not steroids -- is the No. 1 substance-abuse problem among high school athletes.

"We're going to do what they tell us to do, obviously, but at this point, I think our money could be better spent elsewhere."

The United States Supreme Court ruled that mandatory random drug tests for high school athletes are legal, but the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina says the tests would have an unintended effect: Taking the test can be embarrassing, and that might keep someone from playing a sport.