UVU Athletics department begins random drug tests

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Illustration by Trevor Robertson

Although steroid use isn’t an imminent threat at Utah Valley, the athletic department educates athletes on the dangers of drug use and implements random drug testing.

Steroid use has been in the sports world limelight for years with high-profile cases like Lance Armstrong, Marion Jones and Alex Rodriguez. Steroid use is strictly prohibited and highly condemned in the sports world. Many athletes find that to be a deterrent, but many don’t.

“In my opinion steroid use is simply cheating,” said Riley White, a UVU baseball player. “There is no way to justify steroid use.”

However, some athletes do justify their use of steroids, and many caught “doping” cite immense pressure to perform at optimal level at all times.

“I get so annoyed when I hear people make the argument to allow everyone to use it,” White said. “They say, ‘Well if everyone is allowed to use it, then it wouldn’t be an unfair advantage.’ If this is the attitude, then we will have young athletes destroying their bodies at a young age to try and keep up.”

Andrew Nelson, UVU’s head athletic trainer, said that steroids are basically a controlled substance.

“The reason it is controlled is that there are known side effects, which are unhealthy for the athlete,” he added.

Aside from the risk to athletes’ bodies, another ethical dilemma behind the steroid debate is its illegality.

“There are a few medical conditions where (steroid use) is indicated,” Nelson said. “What you see in all of the sports scandals is illegal use of steroids. So you could simply say that it is unethical to break the law.”

Nelson claims that in his eight-year career at UVU, he hasn’t seen a single person test positive for steroid use.

“I don’t see steroid use as a problem right now at UVU,” White said. “That being said, I think that the potential for steroid use is always there at almost every school. You will always have athletes that are willing to sacrifice their health and set aside the rules to gain an unfair advantage.”

White credited the stringent NCAA drug-testing policies as a deterrent.

“If you are selected, you are required to show up the following morning to take a test,” he said. “This seems to work well because it keeps athletes from taking substances, because they worry about being tested.”

The drug policy at UVU applies to all illegal substances and includes steroids. This policy outlines what Nelson calls a “three-strike rule.”

There is a lot of flexibility with the policy after the first offense, according to Nelson. Possible consequences include drug counseling, follow-up testing, a three-month suspension, or in the case of possible substance abuse, the athlete will receive the support he or she needs to attack addiction.

The second offense is less lenient and usually warrants a one-year suspension and community service, Nelson said. The third offense is a permanent suspension from UVU athletics.

We aren’t trying to trap anybody or get anyone kicked out of the program,” Nelson said. “The primary focus is to help the well-being of the athlete.”