Drug testing of pro athletes

Drug testing of pro athletes

San Jose Mercury News: Lance Armstrong’s confession, after years of aggressive denial that he took banned substances, reveals the magnitude of the challenge drug testers face. Armstrong was tested hundreds of times for more than a decade but never produced a positive result. The world’s greatest cyclist became the world’s biggest known sports cheat only because his teammates testified against him.

Coming on the heels of the baseball Hall of Fame vote keeping out Barry Bonds, this latest episode in the annals of doping has sports fans asking: If it’s so hard to catch the cheaters, why test at all? Why not just let athletes use anything they want?

The answer is: Our kids.

The full, long-term risks of performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids and human growth hormone aren’t fully known, but we know they can have lifelong implications.

Based on conservative estimates, more than half a million 14- to 17-year-olds in this country use steroids. That’s about 10 percent of male students and 1 percent of girls.

The Olympics, NFL and Major League Baseball take in more than $20 billion every year but spend only about $50 million on their testing programs. Lance Armstrong’s and Barry Bonds’ combined net worth is $200 million. Small wonder the cheaters are still miles ahead of the testers.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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