When the University of Waterloo’s football team was suspended for the entire year after nine players had tested positive for drugs, Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) CEO Marg McGregor looked at the Canadian Football League to throw her a lifeline.
“There are probably many factors at play when an athlete chooses to take performance-enhancing drugs, some players have identified their desire to play professionally as a factor in their decision,” she said at the time. Two weeks ago, the CFL was the only major pro sports league in North America without a drug testing program. As a not-insignificant count of CIS players end up playing in the CFL (upwards of 100 last year, according to one count), it follows that the only thing constraining a university football player from taking drugs was his sense of right and wrong.
Tuesday, the CFL announced a drug-testing program that includes urine and blood tests—which test for human growth hormone as well–for 25 per cent of its players beginning next spring, and 35 per cent the year after that. The league has also thrown university football that lifeline and has agreed to test the top 80 CIS players at the CFL’s evaluation camp. Free of charge.
The CIS has got to be thrilled about this—overnight without doing anything at all, they’ve doubled the number of drug tests administered to football players each year without spending anything.