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It’s time to level drug testing playing field

Bobby Joe Magers Jr., Opinion Writer
April 29, 2014
Filed under Opinion

A freshman strives to be a great college student, stays current on all assignments, reads and studies the appropriate material and instead of spending time at After Hours at the Phoenix Club, stays up late and studies meticulously for an exam.

What if every time a college freshman received an above average score on an assignment, exam or paper, the student was required to submit to a urinalysis test? Then, if the student tests positive for illegal drugs the grade is dropped and the student is suspended.

College students would probably consider this process absurd. Similarly, the rampant testing and condemning of professional athletes for drug-use has also reached an absurd level.

Procon.org states, “proponents of accepting performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) in sports argue that their harmful health effects have been overstated, that health risks are an athlete’s decision to make, that using drugs is part of the evolution of sports,” and goes on to compare drug use with advanced technology in equipment and training methods.

It’s true that a professional athlete under the care of a trained physician will make better decisions than the current practice of secret dealers, hidden rooms and unhealthy dosages.

Take Ken Caminiti for example. A professional baseball player, Caminiti admitted to using steroids during an MVP season with the San Diego Padres.

Using the steroid to help recover from shoulder surgery, Caminiti admitted, “he felt bigger, faster and stronger on steroids,” according to Complex Sports writer Angel Diaz.

The spirit of competition encourages athletes to be the biggest, fastest and strongest in their particular sport.

Conversely, sports fans probably don’t care how this feat is achieved because the bottom line is professional athletes and their sports are entertainment.

Imagine if the private sector banished inventors and corporations that come up with ideas that better our environment.

Steve Jobs, the creator of Apple, admitted to drug use.

“Indeed, Jobs once said that LSD was one of the ‘two or three most important things’ he ever did in his life,” Network World blogger Yoni Heister said. “A bold statement, to be sure, but Jobs credits his LSD experience with opening up his mind and enabling him to see the world in a different light.”

What if Jobs was drug tested after creating the iPod and iPad and finding a known illegal substance would ban Jobs from manufacturing his wares, making his living and sharing his brilliance with the world? Is that fair?

Take it a step further — the same freshman enrolls in a college level English literature course.  This course has the student read the likes of Lord Byron, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Fyodor Dostoevsky. These acclaimed authors all had some sort of drug addiction that accompanied their art.

According to the Huffington Post’s article “10 Famous Authors’ Famous Addictions,” besides Charles Dickens’ obsession with corpses and James Joyce’s addiction to his wife’s flatulence, Browning chronically used opium. Browning first used the drug when she was 15 to treat a spinal injury and her use of opium continued throughout her creative career.

People who judge others would say these odd behaviors are notorious for artists and excuse them because they wrote great books and helped advance the world with knowledge.

Why does this standard not apply to athletes? Who made the pedestal so high that a professional athlete can’t embrace the same freedoms and opportunities that common citizens enjoy?

The double standard needs to change. If professional athletes want to do LSD, PEDs, marijuana or huff paint, let them. If they show up for work and do their job — and do it well — who cares what helps them? If they fail due to excessive drug use, so be it, they get fired.

Professional athletes need to be left alone. Freshmen don’t get drug tested if they get straight A’s. Level the judgmental playing field.

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