Cheating the Game: Steroids on the Field

Performance-enhancing drugs have been used in baseball, cycling, track and even been found in Olympic events. Infamous cases have ruined athletes’ careers and reputations, not to mention their health. So you might think college athletes would not take a chance with substances like anabolic steroids, stimulants and human growth hormones, but testing happens at The University of Texas at Tyler to make sure.

“We drug test biweekly here at the university. It’s random; if there is ever suspicion, we can test our team,” David Nedbalek, assistant basketball coach, said.

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the drug tests are taken yearly. If a student athlete tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs in a drug test, they are suspended for 365 days. If the athlete ends up breaking the policy again, they could become ineligible to compete.

“To me, I see it as cheating, and that it’s wrong,” Joey Gennusa, a junior ex-baseball player said.

Joey played on the baseball team at UT Tyler, but left the team last semester. While he has not seen performance-enhancing drugs used at the university, Gennusa did see it in high school. Along with extreme muscle growth, Gennusa also saw behavioral changes and mood swings.

“When you’re playing [with people who use performance enhancing drugs], you know, it’s kind of like it’s tainted,” Gennusa said.

The NCAA only drug tests Division I schools and Division II schools. With UT Tyler’s move from Division III to Division II, the university is in a probation period until it’s able to play officially in Division II. But the athletic department is prepared.

“Obviously the (punishment) should be severe,” Nedbalek said.

Gennusa remembers being drug tested every semester before the season started, and then random drug tests after that. He believes the punishment for performance-enhancing drugs should be a full season’s suspension and rehabilitation to keep athletes from becoming repeat offenders.

“You don’t want to teach kids at a young age…about using drugs to get an advantage. Getting an advantage and cheating is not good in anything that you do, and it’s a life lesson. Sports teaches you a lot of life lessons and I think what you do there correlates to what you do off the field.”

Nedbalek noted the university’s penalty now is half a season of suspension for the first offense, then dismissal from the program on a second offense.

“As a department, I would say our goal would to be proactive in this opposed to reactive. The punishment and consequence would be a reactive response,” Nedbalek added. “We want to equip, we want to educate, we want to be involved in the front end so that we don’t get to the place where consequence is necessary.”

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