DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - March 9, 2007

Houston targets steroid use

Assembly Bill asks for random drug testing in high schools

by Jordan M. Doronila

State Assemblyman Guy Houston (R., 15th District) introduced a bill late last month to the California Legislature that requires random drug testing of high school athletes for steroid use.

The bill would make it mandatory for student athletes to sign consent forms for random urinalysis testing for steroid use. Testing would be compulsory to play at the regional or state championship level.

"It's important to take care of our kids," said Houston, a father of teenagers. "It's something that kids talk about."

"We need to send the message that it's wrong," said Houston's Chief of Staff Aaron Bone. "It's bad for your body. It's going to cause you harm. It's not worth the risk."

If students do not sign the consent forms, they will be prohibited from competing in interscholastic sports, according to the bill. Houston introduced the proposal to the Assembly on Feb. 26.

The bill focuses on teams that are competing at high levels, Bone said.

State law now says a student is prohibited from participating in interscholastic high school sports unless he or she signs a pledge not to use anabolic steroids. Moreover, it authorizes a superintendent or a school principal to suspend or expel a student if it is determined that he or she has unlawfully possessed, used, sold, furnished or has been influenced by any controlled substance on school grounds.

Nevertheless, Bone said Houston felt current laws were not enough to deter steroid use. Recent stories about professional athletes using the drug have brought the issue to the forefront.

"They are role models out there," Houston said. "They are not doing a good job."

As members of the California Interscholastic Federation, all schools in the district must prohibit the use and abuse of steroids.

Currently, student athletes and their parents in San Ramon Valley Unified School District sign an agreement that they will not use androgenic or anabolic steroids without the written prescription of a fully licensed physician to treat a medical condition.

Students learn about the dangers of steroids in health education class, said John Raynor, athletic director at San Ramon Valley High School.

"We, as a school district, are in compliance," Raynor said. "I don't have any factual evidence that anyone has used steroids at San Ramon Valley High School."

Principal Joe Ianora said he has not seen steroid use on campus. But he has heard it is a concern from high school athletic directors and principals from Northern California at quarterly meetings of the California Interscholastic Conference North Coast Section.

"We are noticing it is an issue," he said. "I haven't seen it here on campus."

He said his school policy is for a drug-free environment.

"I want good, healthy competition," Ianora said.

Raynor raised several issues regarding drug testing, including costs, effectiveness and civil liberties.

"Who's going to pick up the (cost)?" he asked.

"I'm all for reducing drug use in high school whether with anabolic steroids or alcohol or any illegal substance," he added. "The question is, will testing for steroids reduce the incidents?"

Aida Glimme, Monte Vista High School track coach and assistant principal, said she would be fine with random drug testing and has not seen steroid use on campus.

"There's always going to be rumors that kids (are doing steroids)," Glimme said. "If they are, it's an unfair advantage."

She said she personally is not against drug testing.

"I would be in support for random testing," Glimme said. "(But) there are so many details I want to work out with that."

Houston said he believes the state would pay the costs of testing. His proposal will be heard in the Assembly in late March or April.

"It's a good starting point," Bone said. "There will be lots of discussion and debate."

Contact Jordan M. Doronila at jdoronila@DanvilleWeekly.com

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