Drug tests for athletes up for debate

June 19, 2003 12:00 am

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

Student athletes in the Bret Harte Union School District might be subject to drug tests come next school year.

The district board will discuss adopting a random drug test policy in a Monday afternoon study session.

The board cannot vote during study sessions. To approve drug tests, board members would have to schedule a vote for a future meeting.

District Superintendent Joseph Wilimek said he's not aware of a drug-use problem among student athletes. The goal, he said, is to deter athletes from starting.

"It's a preventative program," Wilimek said. "Hopefully if we do this, we won't have a problem."

Wilimek will recommend to the district board that male and female athletes of all sports be tested randomly.

The tests will screen for amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, marijuana and opiates.

Under Wilimek's recommendation, a student who fails a drug test would be ineligible to compete for 14 calendar days, although the student would be able to continue practicing with his or her team. The student would have to enroll in a drug-education program and would undergo weekly drug tests for a varying amount of time. The student also would have to meet with his or her parents and school administrators.

After failing a second test, the student would meet again with parents and administrators and sit through another drug-education program.

This time, though, the student would lose athletic eligibility for nine months.

A student would forfeit all remaining athletic eligibility at Bret Harte after a third failed test.

After the first and second infractions, a student would need a doctor's "drug-free" certification before being allowed full eligibility.

"We looked at several drug-testing policies up and down the state, and we think this one fits our needs," Wilimek said. "We're not reinventing the wheel.

"We've had a lot of parents request that we do this, and all my coaches are in favor of this."

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