Is there a really a steroid problem in university sport? -

Is there a really a steroid problem in university sport?

In light of more positive steroid results, CIS will triple the number of football players tested


Tuesday afternoon, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) and the Canadian Inter Interuniversity Sport (CIS) held a press conference to announce the results of drug testing done on university football players this summer. You may recall there was an avalanche of press—or what passes for an avalanche in Canadian university sport—when nine players from the University of Waterloo football team tested positive for drugs, and the university suspended the program for a year as a result.

The CIS and CCES acted quickly to alleviate fears that drugs were corrupting good young Canadians across the country, and announced it would be tripling its random testing, along with creating a Very Important Task Force (I paraphrase, slightly) to get a better long-term sense of the threat.

And to get a short-term sense of exactly how prevalent drug use really is, the CIS and CCES tested 60 university football players over May and June. The results?

Of the 60, the number of positive tests for drugs was . . . 3. One of which was for pot. So really, all things being equal, 2. Or 3.3 per cent of student-athletes in the sport most likely to use performance-enhancing drugs.

Is this a large number? With something this subjective—not to mention the margin of error with a relatively small sample size—it’s hard to say. In 2003, Major League Baseball announced that “5 to 7 percent” of all players tested positive for drugs in random, non-punishable testing, though players had a full eight months between the announcement of tests and their commencement.

No one is disputing that increased testing, especially during the offseason, is a Good Thing. Likewise, the fact that the CIS has finally stepped up and formed some sort of coherent policy—as opposed to closing their eyes and crossing their fingers—is something that should be belatedly applauded.

But given the piddling results of the tests, it’s possible that this was a Waterloo issue, rather than a giant national issue, and that the sports media may have overplayed a controversial issue about a league that they rarely cover. It’s a slight that annoys those who follow the league full time.

“When else is Sportsnet going to post anything about the CIS?” said Neate Sager, founding editor of CIS Blog, a leading blog for university sport (full disclosure: I contribute there occasionally).

In football and hockey, basketball and volleyball, soccer and field hockey, thousands of our top young student-athletes are competing their guts out, sometimes in front of thousands of fans, and sometimes in front of dozens. Regardless, it’s demeaning to them that the only national coverage they get comes only after a few bad apples from Waterloo get caught. The CIS has moved aggressively to show how serious they are about drugs, but have they cast a pall over all their teams and athletes as a result?

“The rank-and-file either don’t care, or if they’ve made their piece with it,” Sager said. “Instead of this being a three-day story for the CIS, it’s become a three-month one.”


Is there a really a steroid problem in university sport?

  1. This whole thing is the CIS’ own fault. Take it from someone who is currently actively participating in one of the CIS’ 27 university football programs. This is a much more widespread issue and it doesn’t revolve around lack of education. We know what we can and cannot take and we know the consequences. The reason some choose to do it, especially in the off-season, is because before this year the CIS never tested in the off-season.

    Everyone who doesn’t pay attention to the CIS thinks that the CIS is doing a good thing here and should be commended. I would have first liked to see them be ridiculed for bringing this problem upon themselves. The CIS testing measures are very strict but their system is a joke. There have been seasons over my career where not a single person on our team got tested.

    The CIS is just trying to cover their ass at this point and make the general public think that they are doing everything they can to stop this problem when in reality they really don’t give a **** and never have. If they really cared they would have spent the money to have more people tested.

    Oh, and as for their widespread testing – the CIS tested 54 football players in the month of June – 8 of them, I know for a fact were from the same team alone.

    I really hope that some reporters decide to dig a little deeper into the situation and find out what really goes on, because I can tell you with 100% conifidence that the CIS brought this problem upon themselves. Yet nobody really seems to be interested in that side of the story.

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  3. Yes there is a problem, a big problem and it goes way beyond some kids taking a PED. The issue here is beaurocrats justifying their existance and no one giving a darn about the athletes.

    First offence in the NFL is a 4 game suspension. In the CIS it’s 2 years. Why are we throwing our kids under the bus? Why do we think a CIS player should be held to Olympic standards? These are kids, 18 and 19 years old, they make mistakes.

    Why are kids doing PED’s, because the the stars they look up to are doing them. In order to compete with others doing Steroids, they have no choice but do the same or loose.

    As widely reported it is not a saftey issue, Tylenol is much worse for you than most PED’s. So forget the argument this for the kids benefit.

    The system is broken, CCES and CIS are covering their butts with increased tested and more positives. Using our children to obtain more Federal funds.

    Fix the system, create a graduated suspension system that recognises young people make mistakes. Test everone, not just 5%. Put the guys selling this stuff in jail. Create a recovery program for the athletes suspended, a support system where they can get some counciling, advise and help.

    Think about how you would feel if your son tested postive, had his hopes and dreams ended by one stupid attempt to better. Knowing this will inevitably impact his future, beyond football, coaching, teaching and employability. His name, your name dragged through the papers, under the mask of ethics in sport. What happened to ethics in humanity. These are our children. We should be helping them.

    Just a players parent’s perspective.