2.4 percent of UH athletes test positive
By (Ukjent person)
Advertiser Staff Writer
By (Ukjent person)
About 2.4 percent of the University of Hawai'i athletes who have been tested for drugs between 2002-03 and 2004-05 have confirmed positive findings, according to figures provided by the school.
UH said 878 athletes — men and women across all sports — were tested over that span with 21 (2.39 percent) confirmed positives for so-called street drugs.
UH said one athlete had a confirmed positive test in 2002-03 while there were 10 confirmed positives in each of the 2003-04 and 2004-05 school years. Officials said they could not explain the jump but said in the 20 years of the program it was a "rarity."
Over the next four weeks, beginning with football this week and Rainbow Wahine volleyball next week, approximately half or less of UH's nearly 500 athletes will be drug-tested in conjunction with annual physical exams.
"I think we will continue to closely monitor what's going on and it would behoove all of our student-athletes to to show up clean because we will toe the line on drug testing and people who are positive," said Herman Frazier, UH athletic director.
The tests come at a time when several prominent sports figures have been in the headlines over allegations of failed drug tests. But unlike allegations surrounding Tour de France winner Floyd Landis, world 100-meter record-holder Justin Gatlin or home run hitter Barry Bonds, UH does not test its athletes for steroids.
UH officials said their athletes are tested for "street" drugs although the NCAA — at championships and as part of a year-round program — does test for performance-enhancing drugs.
Frazier said he believes the number of positive tests "is probably below the (national) average," but UH had no national numbers to cite.
Frazier said, "I don't want to disparage people in other places, but I would suspect the (athletic department) rate is much lower than the (overall) campus."
Inside Higher Education reported a 1.8 percent positive rate for random NCAA championship testing from 2002-03 through 2004-05 but did not specify all the drugs that were tested for.
Associate athletic director Marilyn Moniz-Kaho'ohano-hano, who oversees the UH program, said the school does not compare its numbers with other schools because of the number of variables.
For example, Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano said UH no longer tests all its athletes, only newcomers (freshmen and transfers) and those who fall under the "reasonable suspicion" category. She said at one time UH did test most of its athletes, "but the positive (tests) were so low we had to make a decision whether we should test everybody and whether it was financially (sound)."
Citing privacy rules that might make it possible to identify athletes who tested positive, UH said it does not disclose which teams the offenders belong to or the sanctions taken.
The UH Student Athlete Handbook says a first positive test may be grounds for suspension from competition "if continued participation may represent a health and safety risk to the student-athlete or others..."
A second positive test, "requires a medical evaluation and a 30-day suspension" from participation. A third positive test requires a medical evaluation and one-year suspension from participation.
Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano said all athletes are counseled before each season about drugs by administrators, coaches and guest speakers. In addition, she said most athletes attend a Drugs and Society class at UH.
Frazier said UH does not test for steroids because national testing has shown "only about one percent" had positive results and the cost of testing can be several times those for other substances.
UH said it spent $6,098 on drug testing in 2004-05.
Frazier said, "we'll sit down and talk about" whether the department will reconsider its testing of steroids. An NCAA survey showed less than 50 percent of Division I schools test for steroids.
Hawai'i does not test its coaches, officials added.
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