The University of Maryland is planning to implement its drug-testing program for athletes by August, in the form of urinalysis, Athletic Director Dick Dull said yesterday.
Officials at Maryland studied for more than a year the possibility of having a drug-testing program, which will cover all of the school's student-athletes. The plan, when put in effect, will test for several illegal substances, including steroids. Some of the tests will be random, others will be announced ahead of time, Dull said.
"We don't have a problem, I think, that's any worse than anywhere else," Dull said. "(But) any athletic director who doesn't think there is at least a small problem is naive. Drugs are a problem from elementary school on up."
According to the plan, originally reported in The Washington Post in August, the first time an athlete is found to have taken an illegal substance he or she will be required to enter a drug-counseling program at the university. The second time will mean a suspension from the team; the third will mean indefinite suspension and possible loss of scholarship.
Several Maryland athletes interviewed last fall said that while they have questions concerning whether drug testing is constitutional, they supported its objective.
Greg Harraka, a Maryland senior football player, will graduate before having to be tested, but he said earlier, "In a way, it's an invasion of privacy. And if student-athletes are supposed to receive no more privileges than other students, why should student-athletes be tested for drugs when other students aren't?"
The aim of the program, according to the athletic department, is to "inform, not punish." The list of banned substances includes marijuana, cocaine, PCP, barbiturates, amphetamines and Quaaludes.
Athletes at the school have already been informed that before the program is implemented they can go to the coaching staff and talk about any existing drug problem.