Many baseball experts seem to think that Bonds has been the benefactor of steroids, substances that Major League Baseball has banned.
Bonds has not been found guilty of using steroids or drugs in a court of law or by a test conducted by the MLB. But his involvement with a trainer in the BALCO scandal, including his grand jury testimony, has raised questions as has his increase in physical mass from the time he was a slender left fielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates to his much more muscular image with the San Francisco Giants.
Athletes at the professional level cannot use performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids, as are athletes at the collegiate level. as the NCAA has banned the use of steroids by its student-athletes.
But that is because the players in the NFL and NCAA are part of national organizations. High school athletes, in contrast, are subject to their state's guidelines. Surprisingly, only a handful of athletic associations have decided to have mandatory testing for their student-athletes.
Ohio is not one of the them.
“I would whole heartedly be in support of that (a testing system),” said Portsmouth athletic director Tom Grashel. “It makes sure everybody is playing on an equal and level playing field. The No. 1 thing is the safety of the kids. They don't need to be messing with stuff that can hurt them later in life.”
In the 2006-07 school year New Jersey was the first state that began testing high school athletes for steroids. New Jersey has approximately 243,023 student-athletes, but only five percent of those athletes were eligible to be tested. The annual cost of this testing was $100,000. The penalty for a positive test was a one-year suspension.
No positive test has been reported at this time.
Two other states have now jumped on the bandwagon to test high school athletes for steroids.
Florida and Texas have both decided to test student-athletes by order of the legislators of the states. Both states' General Assemblies passed laws to steroid test their high school athletes and both Governors signed those bills into law. Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed his state's bill into law on June 15 and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist followed suit.
This is not the first time state legislators have tried to implement a steroid testing policy. In 2004, California's General Assembly passed a testing policy, however, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill.
Schwarzenegger, a former bodybuilder has admitted to using steroids in the past.
Recently, Schwarzenegger signed a bill prohibiting high school athletes to take ephedra and other supplements.
In 18 other states, including Ohio, testing can exist at the state or local level.
“This past spring (2007) we took a survey of our membership and our members were split,” said Debra Moore, assistant commissioner of the OHSAA.
While Moore said that school systems can implement independent testing policies, the OHSAA does not have a statewide one in place.
Moore said that the Ohio legislature has not seemed anxious to mandate steroids testing.
“The Ohio General Assembly hasn't been eager to get involved (in this issue),” Moore said.
Seven other states have laws that exist, but do not mandate testing. Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Virginia all have laws in place that either prohibits the use or ask school systems to address the steroid issue. A 1990 rule in Iowa calls for suspensions for steroid use, but state law prohibits random drug testing.
Moore said, with the state of Ohio, the two main issues with steroids is the cost and the privacy of student-athletes.
“A test for anabolic steroids costs between $120-150 per test,” Moore said. “It's an expensive enterprise and that has school people concerned.”
According to Moore, some schools would rather educate their student-athletes than test them.
“We are a democratic organization, a member-driven organization,” Moore said. “We need to respond to our membership. Some members want us to spend our money to educate parents, coaches, and athletes to promote prohibitive behavior, such as DVDs, brochures and other educational material.”
Despite these sentiments, athletes and athletic directors from this area support some kind of testing policy..
Portsmouth quarterback Shane Porter agrees with his athletic director, but does not believe steroids are a problem at Portsmouth High School.
“I don't think they (steroids) have that much effect on high school sports,” said Porter. “It does not affect anyone at our school.
“I think a testing policy would be good for high school sports,” added Porter. “It would keep kids off steroids and stuff like that.”
Northwest High School Athletic Director Dave Frantz echoes Grashel's and Porter's feelings, but is apprehensive about the costs.
“I'm in favor of steroid testing as long as the expense doesn't fall back on the local district,” said Frantz. “I think a lot of kids, if they want to go to D-I athletics, if they are not educated, they may want to go down that path. As administrators, it is our job to educate students on the dangers of drugs.”
Bo Arnett, Waverly's athletic director agreed that steroid testing was a good idea.
“I would be very much in favor of steroid testing,” said Arnett. “Waverly looked at drug testing (for basic drugs such as alcohol, marijuana and amphetamine). It is something the OHSAA should look into.”
The Waverly Board of Education has received a “draft policy,” said Waverly City Schools Continuing Improvement Coordinator Rick Teeters.
“A 15-person committee made the recommendation to the Board (of Education) to accept a draft for student-athlete drug and alcohol testing policy,” said Teeters. “For us, it's all about safety and prevention policies for student-athletes.”
The Board of Education has not voted on this measure yet. The draft must go to the district's legal counsel, then go back to the school board before receiving a vote.
“Things that the board must decide if they adopt the policy include funding, implementation dates, and penalties for violation of the policy,” said Teeters.
The policy extends to anyone who participates in school-sponsored extra curricular activities. An extra curricular activity is defined as “anything Waverly City Schools offered a supplemental contract to be an advisor or coach of an activity.”
Teeters said that drugs that can be tested for are nicotine, alcohol, amphetamine, cocaine, barbiturates, LSD, ecstasy, anabolic steroids and others.
Wheelersburg quarterback Drew Spradlin thinks steroids has great appeal to players wanting to reach the next level.
“I think it's not so much about Barry Bonds and professional athletes as it is pressure to get bigger, stronger and faster for the next level,” said Spradlin. “High school athletes are dying to play at next level and steroids are a ‘quick fix.'
“I don't really think a testing policy is necessary around here,” Spradlin said. “I don't know about other areas. If it became necessary, I wouldn't have a problem with it.”
West Athletic Director Eric Nichols also supports the idea of steroid testing.
“I whole-heartedly think our student athletes are our student leaders and should be held to rigorous standards,” said Eric Nichols. “I am 100 percent certain that it is not a problem at West, but I am not sure about other schools.”
One of the main arguments against steroid testing is the infringement of the person's civil rights under the First, Fourth and 14th Amendments.
In the 1995 Supreme Court case of Veronia School District v. Wayne Acton, the high court upheld the lower court ruling, by a 6-3 vote, that the Veronia School District's testing of athletes was legal.
The Supreme Court's opinion found that “Fourth Amendment rights, no less than First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, are different in public schools than elsewhere.”
The decision also states “students within the school environment have a lesser expectation of privacy than members of the population generally.”
In Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's dissenting opinion, with Justices John Paul Stevens and Souter joining, she wrote that “intrusive blanket searches of schoolchildren, most of whom are innocent, for evidence of serious wrongdoing are not part of any traditional school function of which I am aware of.”
O'Connor's opinion also said, “I cannot avoid the conclusion that the District's suspicionless policy of testing all student athletes sweeps too broadly, and too imprecisely to be reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”
Ohio is one the 18 states where laws exist at the state or local level. State legislators, high school athletics governing bodies or school districts can impose a testing policy on student-athletes.
Funding is the most pressing question when comes to steroid testing. Who will fund the testing in Ohio?
In Florida and Texas, the state legislature has set aside money to cover at least some of the cost. Illinois and Louisiana are looking to be the next two states to implement a system.
It would seem that if the state of Ohio does not act quickly, its student-athletes might be left behind.
BRET BEVENS can be reached at (740)-353-3101, ext. 242.