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 #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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