It seems a fan can't pick up the sports page or turn on ESPN these days without hearing some sort of news about drugs and doping in sports. When reading these stories, fans may hear about outing players who have been caught, but the challenge still exists for leagues and athletes to prevent doping.
Testing, Prevention and Education
One of the biggest problems in baseball in the 1980's and 1990's was the lack of drug testing, which led to the increase in doping problems. One way to prevent drugs in sports is to create a strict testing policy for the league. In the NFL, if a player tests positive for a banned substance three times, he is suspended for four games. If he tests positive again, he is banned for a year.
In Major League Baseball, the first positive test is now 50 games, followed by 100, followed by a whole season.
The other way to ensure a clean sport is the frequency of the tests. After his positive test recently, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez said he had been tested 15 times over the past five seasons. That would average out to three a season.
The testing also has to be at random. If a player knows when the test is going to be, they can simply make sure that their system is clean at the time of the test.
Players also must be fully clear on the rules and what substances are banned. The NCAA has an easily accessible list of what substances are banned, how they are tested for and why they are banned on its website. This way, players are clear on what they can put in their bodies. This is also a good way to educate players on the dangers of the substances they may be tempted to use. From a Division 1 football player under the national spotlight to a Division 3 diver, every player can be clear on the rules.
Just like any problem, the only true way to solve it is through education. Many high school sports programs now have people come in to talk to them about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs. The events in pro sports over the past decade has made it clear that players need to be educated early on how to take care of their bodies without breaking the law.
High school and youth league coaches should all consult a local doctors office to find someone who is willing to come talk to their athletes.