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Beyond “Wishful Thinking”... Is Drug Testing Accomplishing What We Intended? Rick Albrecht, Ph.D. Department of Movement Science Grand Valley State University.

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Presentation on theme: "Beyond “Wishful Thinking”... Is Drug Testing Accomplishing What We Intended? Rick Albrecht, Ph.D. Department of Movement Science Grand Valley State University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Beyond “Wishful Thinking”... Is Drug Testing Accomplishing What We Intended? Rick Albrecht, Ph.D. Department of Movement Science Grand Valley State University Copyright  Dr. Rick Albrecht., 2005

2 Prefacing Comments n As Athletic Trainers -- particularly those of you that are going into scholastic and collegiate settings -- you will be called on to assist -- if not actually administer -- your institution’s drug testing program n You are going to be told -- time and time again -- by those advocating drug testing that this is an essential and effective program

3 Prefacing Comments n We all would LIKE TO BELIEVE that drug testing is accomplishing its goals -- however, simply WISHING the drug testing of athletes to be effective doesn’t mean it is n After nearly 40 years of drug testing, it’s time we critically examine whether or not drug testing is accomplishing its intended purposes

4 Wishful Thinking: Drug Testing Ensures Fair and Equitable Competition n It is impossible to test for all known and unknown performance-enhancing and “masking” substances n Without this ability, there is no way drug testing can ever ensure fair and equitable competition n Despite technological advances, drug testing remains a human endeavor and as such, is subject to human error n New drug policy: “Clean” drug test means nothing (example: Marion Jones)

5 Even Top Drug Testing Officials “Admit” Testing Can’t Identify Users Dr. Robert Voy (Director of Drug Testing for the United States Olympic Committee from ) … “The testers know that the drug gurus are smarter than they are. They know how to get under the radar”

6 Even Top Drug Testing Officials “Admit” Testing Can’t Identify Users Wade Exum (Director, USOC Drug Control from )… “The USOC does not run a doping control program, they run a controlled doping program”

7 Even Top Drug Testing Officials “Admit” Testing Can’t Identify Users n Dick Pound (Head, World Anti-Doping Agency)… "It's got to be pretty embarrassing to the USOC to have their secretary general writing in the letter where he advises an athlete of a positive sample, 'I have to send you this, but we already decided this was inadvertent’. That whole process turned into a joke."

8 Even Top Drug Testing Officials “Admit” Testing Can’t Identify Users Chuck Yesalis (Professor and National Drug Expert)… “Only stupid and careless and foolish people ever get caught”

9 Wishful Thinking: Drug Testing Reduces Health Risks Among Athletes n Testing for performance-enhancing drugs raises the ante and pushes those wishing to cheat to turn to unknown or less detectable substances n These new substances may actually be more of a health hazard than the original substances

10 Wishful Thinking: Drug Testing Reduces Health Risks Among Athletes n “Providing emergency care for the athletes... [is] more complicated than normal emergency room situations” - Dr. Eric Deal Director of Emergency Medicine, 1996 Olympic Village n Medical personnel are forced to consult a 60-page list of allowable medications before prescribing treatment for Olympic athletes

11 Wishful Thinking: Drug Testing Reduces Health Risks Among Athletes n For the sake of argument, let’s assume for a moment this is true, doesn’t it then beg the question… Why should athletes receive a “higher standard of medical care” than their peers? Are we providing drug “screening” benefits for all students? Why not?

12 Wishful Thinking: Drug Testing Protects “Clean”Athletes n The illusion that athletes who cheat will be caught by drug testing may actually make “clean” athletes even more vulnerable to their unethical competitors n Drug testing may give “clean” athletes a false sense of security because they assume a “level” playing field that drug testing can never provide

13 Wishful Thinking: Drug Testing is Justified Because Athletes Want It n Although many athletes favor mandatory, unannounced drug testing, many do not n Athletes who oppose drug testing, for any reason, are generally believed to be cheating n One group of athletes do not have the right to deprive all others of their civil liberties

14 Wishful Thinking: Drug Testing Increases Public Perception that Games are Fair n Did the fact that Marion Jones has “passed” over 160 drug tests convince her accusers that she has competed “clean”? n Does the fact that Lance Armstrong has never tested positive stop the rumors and accusations about his drug use? n What is the point of drug testing if neither the public nor the athletes have faith in the results?

15 Wishful Thinking: Drug Testing Improves the Public Image of Athletes n Mandatory drug testing without “reasonable suspicion” sends the public the message that simply being an athlete is enough reason to suspect an individual of unethical behavior n Intense media coverage of athletes who test positive simply reinforces the perception that athletes cannot to be trusted

16 Wishful Thinking: Drug Testing Does Not Infringe on Civil Liberties n Indiscriminate, mandatory drug testing of all athletes: Lacks reasonable suspicion - all athletes are assumed guilty until they prove themselves innocent Without suspicion, becomes a case of unreasonable search and seizure Is an invasion of privacy Often lacks adequate “due process” after a positive test result

17 Wishful Thinking: Drug Testing Promotes Personal Ethics Among Athletes n Testing and sanctions can, at best, only alter overt behavior, not personal ethics n Drug testing encourages athletes to operate at a lower level of moral reasoning: “I won’t use drugs because I might get punished” -- versus -- “I won’t use drugs because it would be cheating myself and others and dishonoring my sport”

18 Wishful Thinking: Drug Testers Only Have the Athletes’ Best Interest in Mind n Drug testing labs and personnel have their own vested interest in advancing drug testing policies Financial »Individual Salary and Job Security »Corporate Profits Psychological »Need to “save face” by not contradicting previous positions n We must make sure our personal interests do not influence our professional judgments

19 Wishful Thinking: Drug Testing Athletes Has No Effect on Public Testing Policy n Testing highly visible athletes for drug use sets a dangerous public precedent n Once the public accepts the fact that athletes are tested, it’s much easier for them to accept the legitimacy of drug testing policies for the general public

20 Wishful Thinking: Drug Testing is a Legitimate Solution to a Serious Problem n To assume that drug testing is the solution means that drug use is the problem rather than a mere symptom of a larger, more systemic problem n Focusing on drug testing keeps us from addressing the real problem of obscene reward systems and a society-wide “win at all cost” philosophy

21 If Drug Testing Does Not Accomplish What We Intend, Why Do We Do It? n Although drug testing can not ensure “fair and equitable” competition, it can ensure the illusion of “fair and equitable” competition n Without the illusion of fairness, the public would lose interest in the games and the athletes n Without the public’s interest, there would be no corporate sponsorship

22 Some Final Points on Drug Testing n We must always acknowledge the limits of drug testing n We can’t let our war on drugs become a war on civil liberties n Without systemic changes, drug testing is useless… with systemic changes, drug testing won’t be necessary

23 Everything We Have Learned After 40 Years of Drug Testing Leads to Only One Conclusion...


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