Madison Superintendent Considers Plan to Drug Test Athletes
Some big changes could be coming to Madison County's athletic program. The school system is considering a plan to randomly test student athletes for drugs.
Madison County Superintendent Dr. Matthew Eberhardt says it's about safety, but others are concerned it singles certain students out.
Eberhardt says the school system wants to take this year to hear from parents and students, and gather more research to make sure this is the right thing to do. While others already have their minds made up. He says the discussion about randomly testing high school athletes comes from wanting to protect their best interest.
"We know that when kids use illegal substances that they have a greater chance of not only injuring themselves, but another player," said Eberhardt.
If put in place, Madison would hire a private company to administer urine tests and look for marijuana and what Eberhardt calls major drugs.
"They bring a van in and students are randomly selected and then there is a urine test that's evaluated to make sure kids are clean," he explained.
Pastor Frank Lewis of Antioch Baptist Church thinks the testing is a good idea, but is concerned random selection could lead to profiling. He would prefer the county include testing as part of a yearly physical.
Frank said, "So often we still have a lot of unfairness in this county and other areas, so we have to be very careful with that whether it's going to be done fairly."
And the issue of fairness also begs the question why just athletes? "My response to folks who say should we be testing the chess team or the technology club, I'm not sure they're in a position of physical danger, where student athletes are in that position, just because that's athletics," said Eberhardt.
The county is still trying to work out what the consequences would be if a student fails the test, but it could range from being kicked off the team to mandatory counseling. It's estimated drug testing would cost Madison between $8,000 to $10,000 a year to administer.
There was some discussion about having this in middle schools, but the focus right now is high school athletes.
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Natalie Wilson joined the NBC29 news team as a general assignment reporter in April 2012.Full Story
Natalie Wilson joined the NBC29 news team as a general assignment reporter in April 2012. She is a proud alum of Howard University and is currently pursuing her Master's in Communication at Johns Hopkins. Email/ Full Story