Football: More on steroids, and what's wrong with CIS drug testing procedures

Let's just start right away with the quote from Waterloo's Joe Surgenor because it's pretty frank:

“To be perfectly honest, anyone who doesn’t think there are seven to 13 players on every team [using performance-enhancing drugs] in the CIS, you’re kidding yourself. There’s at least that number. I don’t think the CIS really wants to find out what’s going on. They don’t want to know the answer [to how many athletes are taking steroids].”

In today's Globe, Surgenor admitted to being one of the Warriors who used steroids. It's part of a larger story by Allan Maki that highlights a) just how ineffective the CIS drug testing strategy was and b) how much they now (apparently) want to improve it.

(Full credit, by the way, to Mr. Maki, who needs to write on CIS more often.)

As our Evan Daum points out, you can't just test players at training camp and three or four months later at the Vanier Cup and call it a day. (And even if officials show up to test, who's to say the players aren't "accidentally" going to the wrong facility?) Evan concludes, "It's going to take the Waterloo whirlwind to bring attention to the problem, and some headaches for CIS before this gets straightened out, but hopefully some good will come out of it when the dust settles."

But if CIS does indeed care about its players being clean (whatever that means), it shouldn't take a few front-page articles and some criminal charges to motivate them. That's where the reactive-instead-of-proactive part comes in: yes, it's easy to criticize ill-prepared people in hindsight about any situation, but when it's drug use by competitive athletes? In football? Nobody saw that coming, except everybody.

Who knows whether this actually motivates CIS to change their policies, or even if they can afford to be more vigilant once they do. Ask anyone at all involved with university sport in this country and they'll say there's not enough money. (Or no money.)

And I'm not that bothered to vilify Surgenor for using, or to lionize him for his Jose Canseco moment (okay, a kinder, gentler version of it). But this will resonate. Being on the front page of a national newspaper still means something, even in 2010, even below the fold. This is messy.

Will this issue be solved by the fall? No.

Are they working on it? Let's hope.

UPDATE: Excuse my editorial laugh, but WLU's got it covered! "Laurier plans to introduce regular information sessions for its student-athletes conducted by health professionals and police to outline the consequences of using and possessing banned substances. ... Other universities, including UW, are expected to follow suit."

So, telling young adults that drugs are bad. That'll do it.

More from Laurier (Jun. 1): WLU AD (and OUA football convener) Peter Baxter told The Record that he would be shocked, shocked if Surgenor's statement were true.
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