By Ken Reed
Steroids have been a big issue in Major League Baseball and the National Football League for years. Meanwhile, steroid abuse hasn’t received much attention in college football.
That’s about to change.
A major investigative report by the Associated Press has revealed that steroid abuse is a significant problem in college football and, for the most part, neither the NCAA or individual schools seem to care.
Matt Apuzo, Adam Goldman, and Jack Gillum uncovered some nuggets in their Associated Press feature.
“With steroids easy to buy, testing weak and punishments inconsistent, college football players are packing on significant weight — 30 pounds or more in a single year, sometimes — without drawing much attention from their schools or the NCAA in a sport that earns tens of billions of dollars for teams,” concluded the report’s authors.
Don Catlin, an anti-doping pioneer and long-time lab researchers, says the collegiate system, in which players often are notified days before a test and many schools don’t even test for steroids, is designed to not catch dopers.
For schools that do test for steroids, players can be notified up to two days in advance, which Catlin says is plenty of time to beat a test if players have designed the right doping regimen.
The NCAA doesn’t have a standardized steroids testing program for its members and punishments for positive steroid tests vary widely among top football programs.
For example, while the University of North Carolina boots players from the program after a single positive test for steroids, Alabama and Notre Dame (this year’s title game participants) have very flexible policies, which give coaches a great deal of latitude. At Alabama, coaches basically decide what should be done, if anything, for a positive steroid test. At Notre Dame, athletes can return to the field as soon as the steroids are out of the players’ systems.
Since rules vary so widely on steroids, on any given game day, a school with a strict no-steroids/no exceptions policy, might be playing a team who has multiple steroid users who haven’t been tested, or — if having received a positive test — punished for their steroid use. It’s a competitive fairness issue.
“Fans typically have no idea that such discrepancies exist and players are left to suspect who might be cheating,” write the authors of AP‘s article.
Big-time college sports, in many ways, might be the most immoral and unethical sports enterprise going today. And yet the key players in the NCAA receive relatively little heat for their corrupt system.
Hopefully, this AP investigative piece is a major step towards changing that.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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