Pubdate: Mon, 23 Mar 2009
Source: Daily Reflector (Greenville, NC)
Copyright: 2009 Daily Reflector


The Pitt County Board of Education's support for random drug testing 
of student athletes has potential for creating more awareness and 
accountability. But the program could meet cost and sustainability 
challenges at a time when adequately funding public schools is 
especially difficult. The drug-testing measure follows a pilot 
program that started last year at D. H. Conley High School. Principal 
Michael Lutz has called the program a valuable deterrent that helps 
students fight off peer pressure. The school board's policy requires 
that a minimum of one round of random testing be conducted for 
participants in each school sport with at least 10 percent of 
athletes being tested. The cost of the program must be borne by the 
school or student and parent organizations.

The Associated Press recently reported that testing of high school 
athletes for steroid use in New Jersey, Florida, Texas and Illinois 
since 2006 resulted in only 20 positive test results out of 30,799. 
The AP contrasted that finding with 2007 and '08 surveys, conducted 
by the University of Michigan, which found that 2.2 percent of 
seniors said they had tried steroids at least once.

Proponents of testing point to the low number of positive results  
none were recorded in a year of testing at D.H. Conley  as proof of 
an effective deterrent. Others point to the same statistic to argue 
that low results from testing programs do not justify the expense.

The funding method chosen for Pitt County relies on strong support 
from parents and boosters. That could be a problem for schools with a 
lower level of financial support in those areas.

Every school deserves to have the same level of drug-prevention 
programs in place, and every school athlete deserves to benefit from 
the culture of accountability those programs can produce.

At a time when a light of public scrutiny is illuminating drug use 
among professional athletes  particularly performance-enhancing 
drugs  expanding efforts to prevent young athletes from emulating 
that illegal and harmful behavior is necessary. The school board is 
right to approve an official drug-testing policy. The board's 
guidelines for funding, implementing and sustaining that policy may 
prove challenging.
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