Discussion On Whether There Should Be Drug Testing In Canadian High School Sports

In recent years, athletes are under even more pressure than ever to perform. Professional sports have a variety of drug testing policies to make sure the game is fair and that athletes are healthy. Despite the common use of drug testing in professional sports, Canadian high school athletes aren’t subject to drug testing. It is well known that high school is a demanding time for students. With intense workloads, athletics, activities and personal stressors, high school can feel like a roller coaster at times and balancing this workload and emotions can be difficult for some. These stressors can lead to poor decision making and these are decisions that could change a student’s life. For athletes in particular, the pressure to perform can lead to performance enhancing drugs, but also recreational drug use due to stressors in their lives. Because of these stressors, athletes can become vulnerable and therefore easily fall victim to peer pressure. Within the last year alone, twenty three percent of Ontario students were offered, sold, or given a drug at school, and forty two percent have used an illicit substance. Athletes undergoing drug testing would have a built in reason to resist these peer pressures to try or use drugs.

School administrators are charged with ensuring a safe, supportive, and healthy school environment where children can learn and reach their full potential. When drug use occurs, schools use a progressive disciplinary approach which combines early and ongoing intervention to promote positive student behavior. Through drug testing, schools would be reinforcing and promoting a safe drug free environment. Students would be less likely to interact with drugs knowing that they are subject to testing at any time, while simultaneously recognizing the policies and consequences. Additionally, parents and guardians can be reassured that the schools are acting in the best interest of their children and that the school is a safe environment for them to be in.

Athletes are expected to compete with others in a fair way and abide by the rules of the game. When an athlete uses drugs to enhance their performance, it raises questions about the integrity of the game. Drug testing ensures that no athlete has an unfair advantage over others who are trying to compete without using unfair tactics. Many high school athletes plan on pursuing a career in sports, and the first step toward that would be university/college level athletics. It wouldn’t be fair if scouters recruited a using-athlete whose performance is enhanced by drugs, over a non-using athlete who is playing with natural skill. Discovering using athletes would allow for the opportunity to reinstate the virtues, heart and “team player” aspect of sports, which are very important values to any athlete. Drug testing levels the playing field and gives all athletes an equal opportunity at achieving the highest standard.

Admittedly, some people feel that drug testing is too expensive and money could be spent on more effective prevention methods. They also argue that not all drug tests are one hundred percent foolproof and those false positives could result in humiliation and jeopardize future careers. Nevertheless, they fail to see that athletes’ health and safety overrule these factors.

When avoiding drug testing due to its expense money is saved, but is the money saved worth more than student athlete health? Drug testing opens the door to early detection and intervention of drug use. Once a student is identified as drug using, parents can get involved in the situation and begin to seek help to get their child clean. Early interventions for adolescent substance use hold benefits for reducing substance use and associated behavior. The earlier the treatment begins, the quicker a person can get up to one year of sobriety. Once someone is sober for one year, their chances of remaining sober improve significantly.

Not all drug tests are one hundred percent foolproof. For example, if a student prescribed with Adderall for their ADHD was drug tested, they could result in positive for amphetamines. This would cause much humiliation and could be detrimental to future career paths. However, false positives are a rare occurrence. Up to only five percent of drug tests result in false positives, while the remaining ninety five percent are accurate. Continuing to drug test with ninety five percent accuracy runs less of a risk than not testing at all, as drug testing also controls health risk. Repeated use of drugs can cause kidney problems and liver damage and an enlarged heart and high blood pressure, all causing the increased risk of stroke and heart attack, even in young people.

In conclusion, Canada must conduct drug testing in high school sports, or at the very least, starts small by implementing drug testing in select provinces and cities. There should no longer be a tolerance for drug abuse and unfair advantages in Canadian high school sports. If Canadian high schools continue to run sports without conducting drug testing, it not only allows their athletes to abuse drugs with next to no chance of getting caught but also runs a risk on their health and deteriorates the value of integrity in sports. Afterall, athlete health and integrity are the top priorities of sports and drug testing must be done to hold athletes to these standards.

10 December 2020
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