By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer
Clovis High School will begin testing athletes for steroids by the end of the year, according to school officials.
Clovis athletic director Dale Fullerton said Gov. Bill Richardson is pushing for steroid testing on a statewide scale and Clovis will be one of four high schools to participate in a state-funded pilot program.
“If we had the funds we may have done it by now,” Fullerton said. “But steroid testing is a lot more expensive than drug testing. Our coaches are all for it.”
School nurse Rhonda Sparks said the state is paying for testing and $2,500 for education about the risks of steroids.
“There will be a contracted third-party lab that comes in, administers the test, and gives us the results,” Sparks said. “Really, all we do is provide somewhere for them to do the test.”
Clovis High has drug-tested student-athletes for the past five years for street drugs such as marijuana and methamphetamine. Athletes are tested 10 to 12 times a year. Fullerton said about one athlete per year has tested positive for drugs, and in every case, the drug involved was marijuana.
Fullerton said the penalty for testing positive for steroids has not been set, but he expects it to be similar to the school’s penalties already in place.
Under current guidelines, athlete who tests positive are dismissed from the team for the remainder of the season, but is not suspended or expelled from school.
Clovis assistant football coach Darren Kelley said the aim of the steroid testing is prevention rather than punishment.
“More than anything, like our drug policy, it gives kids an out,” Kelley said. “Maybe it gives them another reason not to do it, because they might get tested.”
Kelley said other teams have accused Clovis players of using steroids.
“You hear a lot of rumors about Clovis kids do this and Clovis kids do that,” he said, “but all they need to do is take a look at our kids without their shirts on and they would know there are no steroids being taken.
“I think they are out there. I don’t think they are abundantly used, but they are out there.”
Senior Wildcat football players Jordan Moore and Tanner Fickling said the team was not aware the school was planning to test athletes for steroids.
“Is it really that big of a deal to go in there and take it?” Moore said. “Especially if you don’t have anything to worry about. It shouldn’t be a big deal to anybody.”
Fickling said the team is close and he doubts any of his teammates are using steroids.
“We have known each other and gone to school with each other forever,” Fickling said. “We’ve got a good work ethic in the weight room and we’re always pushing each other.”
The test would be given to Clovis High athletes, cheerleaders, drill team, and any junior high athletes playing on high-school teams.
Testing starts in December.
Fullerton doesn’t expect to find steroid use.
“There are always stories across the nation about kids on steroids,” Fullerton said. “I’m not saying its never happened here, but I would doubt that anyone would test positive.
“Usually you can tell if a kid is using steroids. I don’t think there is anyone here that fits that description.”