A Steroid Bill Snags Colleges

Congressional measure focuses on professional sports, but mandates scrutiny of the NCAA, too.
May 27, 2005

As major league baseball and other professional sports leagues have come under increasing scrutiny from Congress over their policies on steroids and other performance enhancing drugs, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has largely flown under the radar or even earned praise.

But when a House of Representatives committee passed a bill Thursday that would set minimum drug testing policies for the four major American professional sports leagues, the NCAA did not emerge scot-free. The legislation, H.R. 2565, contains a provision that directs the Government Accountability Office to study the use of performance enhancing drugs by college athletes and the policies of college sports associations and individual athletics departments.

The measure, which was sponsored by Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Cal.), the chairman and top Democrat, respectively, on the House Committee on Government Reform, also would give the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy the power to impose the bill's minimum drug testing policies on other leagues, "if the director determines that such additions would prevent the use of performance-enhancing substances by high school, college or professional athletes." (In a bit of semantics that is unlikely to sit well with college sports partisans, the bill would allow the government to deem the NCAA's Division I or II as "major professional leagues.")

Lastly, the legislation would create a commission on high school and collegiate athletics within the national drug policy office. It would be charged with reporting to Congress on the use of steroids in high school and collegiate sports and recommending ways to reduce their use.

"This legislation is aimed at not only getting rid of performance enhancing drugs on the professional level, but also to measure the impact of steroids on the college and high school levels," said Davis. "It, along with our outreach efforts, also sends a powerful message to the youth of America: Steroids are illegal. Steroids are dangerous, even deadly. And using steroids is cheating."

An NCAA spokesman, Erik Christianson, said that the association "will work together with Congress and any other entity to end doping in sports."


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