Friday, June 20, 2008

Steroid use negligible among high school jocks; what about testing police?

After a Texas law passed demanding steroid testing for high school athletes, I argued the program wasted money and ignored more seriously problematic classes of steroid users, particularly in law enforcement where the state has a more compelling interest in preventing illicit steroid use.

Now the results are nearly all in, and the state got back only two positive tests after randomly testing more than 10,000 student athletes. That rate of return is good news to the extent it confirms steroid use isn't a big problem among Texas high school athletes, but it was sure a massively expensive and needless waste of time and money to prove that point.

Dallas PD recently announced it would begin steroid testing for its officers, but most other Texas police departments do not. As I'd argued in the comments to a prior Grits post:
Certainly there are good arguments for police officers wanting to take steroids, and I'm actually quite sympathetic to the idea that they ought to be able to do so. My personal view is that steroids, like marijuana, pose modest risks that are knowingly taken by those using the substances, and probably should be legalized. But as long as steroids are illegal, making sure cops don't participate in an illicit drug culture is a LOT more important than policing [athletes].
When I wrote that I was talking about professional athletes, but that goes double for high-schoolers where the state testing regimen proved there was no significant problem. If testing for police officers revealed similarly low rates, I'd be happy to be proven wrong. But the stakes are a lot higher and from anecdotal accounts, the problem of steroid use among police is more widespread than these data reveal among high school jocks.


Anonymous said...

I as a Medical Professional feel, and this is stricly my opinion, police officers should be tested for steriods. After watching two policemen, with large biceps and huge necks beat a man unmercifully, I truly believe these two PD officers were users of steroids. Steroids also make a person more aggressive and thus every police officer should be drug tested for steriods.

No one builds muscles that big and to have so little control over their actions unless he/she is using steroids.

I hope the day comes when this is required by each and every police department especially in Texas and other States follow suit. Lets be a leader in something worthwhile and not a lagger behind.

Anonymous said...

If we test our public servants, oh no, it might make us QUESTION who is actually doing the crime and why are others doing the time...

Seriously, Police, Politicians and the like rarely get hammered for these crimes. Why is that? If the American people ever wake up and begin questioning, the foundations of what we have built and THEY have taken begins to get more clear for all of us.

Anonymous said...

What is "the problem of steroid use among police"? The hyperlinked reference suggested that the problem was police officers seeking an advantage in dealing with criminal suspects; I think the bigger problem would be if they had a disadvantage?

Anonymous said...

BTW, I really enjoyed all your articles on steroids in sports and society.

I hope that you find an opportunity to expand on the following:

Certainly there are good arguments for police officers wanting to take steroids, and I'm actually quite sympathetic to the idea that they ought to be able to do so

Are you familiar with the work of Philip Sweitzer, J.D.?

Anonymous said...

Bloggers who start threads that are goofey should be drug tested and/or have to blow in a breathzlizer.


Gritsforbreakfast said...

I'm not familiar with Sweitzer's work, Millard.

My main problem with police using steroids is actually that participation in the black market leaves them vulnerable to blackmail and corruption. I'm personally less concerned about so-called 'roid rage, though I know some folks think that's a much more significant threat than I do.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Plato, how about politicians who start goofy programs? 2 out of 10,000 isn't a lot of impact given all the hysteria, hype and cost surrounding the legislation.

Anonymous said...

He wrote a good journal article on "cops and steroids".

Philip J. Sweitzer, Drug Law Enforcement in Crisis: Cops on Steroids, 2 DePaul J. of Sports L. & Contemp. Probs. 193 (2004).

Also, several articles on the internet (including aforementioned)

Anonymous said...

Cheating in a game is offensive to all.

The rules are not so well defined for cheating in life. [YouTube]

Anonymous said...

This is the typical lynch mob attitude that our legislature has followed since it became necessary to be "tuff on crime". Criminalize bad behavior and then believe that everybody is doing it.

Does it surprise me that only two out off 10,000 high school athletes are taking steroids? No. Most of the high school coaches encourage their players not to use steroids, and there is a preference towards using natural adrenalline during high school sporting events.

It is time to get rid of these clowns who want to spend money on wasteful projects like this instead of public mental health programs.

Anonymous said...

Actually, only 2 positive out of 10,000 tests tells me the tests are done properly. I do not assume there are more high schoolers on steroids, but even the most accurate tests will yield some false positives.

For example, if a test is 99% accurate, it only takes 68 instances of testing for the odds to be 50/50 that you will get a false positive.

For them to administer 10,000 tests and not get more false positives than that is suspicious.

It may be that they had 2 "convictions" or "admissions" of doping in high school. They may have had plenty more positive tests, but those were thrown out on technical grounds or on further testing.

Anonymous said...

In previous post I mean, "Actually, only 2 positive out of 10,000 tests tells me the tests are NOT done properly."

Anonymous said...

So why did you have to bring marijay into the discussion about steroids. Why couldn't you use Alcohol as your example? You will end up losing the point of focus bringing completely unrelated topics together like that.

Anonymous said...

I say test police for all illegal drugs. Police should be held to a higher standard. Why stop there, test all persons receiving government assistance too.

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