Taylor Hooton Foundation > Hoot’s Corner > General > CRITICS CALL CIS DRUG-TESTING PROCEDURES PATHETIC
September 2, 2014

The head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies says he suspects football players at the majority of CIS schools are using banned substances, a declaration that comes as some officials say Canadian college football is a “wild west” where players dope without fear of detection and the Canadian government is seizing millions of dollars worth of illegal steroids at the border. “If every school in the CIS came in and tested their entire team, most, if not all, would find one or two (players doping),” said Brian Towriss, Saskatchewan’s longtime coach. “Some might have eight or ten.” Towriss received a tip in the spring that some of his own players were using banned substances, after former Huskies linebacker Seamus Neary was arrested on drug charges. Police found 14 pounds of marijuana in a rental storage locker and charged Neary with possession for the purpose of trafficking. Towriss had his entire football team tested for banned substances in March. Each player was given a urine test and 20 players were tested for blood doping by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. While urine tests typically detect anabolic steroids, some athletes have started using human growth hormone, which can only be detected in the blood. Towriss said he can’t release the results of the investigation for another several weeks — six full months after the samples were taken. “We had suspicion enough that we wanted to test everybody and we tested everybody,” Towriss told TSN. “Within 10 days this should resolve itself… My frustration is the time lag. Those kids got treated in March. We didn’t have final results until the end of June or later on the blood. From a coach’s perspective, we went five months, spring practice and everything, and we just didn’t know.” As TSN recently reported, several university officials say Canadian college football has become a “wild west” where athletes are doping without fear of being caught. That’s because the Canadian government, which funds the CCES, is demanding that most of the testing be done on athletes who represent Canada in the Olympics or other international competition. College football and hockey have become virtual afterthoughts. This year, the CCES is planning 200 tests for nearly 11,000 CIS athletes. “That’s pathetic,” said Don Hooton, president of the Taylor Hooton Foundation in Washington, which educates the public about steroid abuse. “It’s going to take a lot more than 200 tests to root the problem out.” Ira Jacobs, Dean of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, told TSN the CIS has become a “wild west” where athletes know how to game the system. CCES chief operating officer Doug MacQuarrie told TSN, “the facts remain that we implement with the resources that are available. We are calling on many stakeholders to contribute.” Hooton said a study published this month by the Partnership for Drug Free Kids, a non-profit group in New York, reveals that seven per cent of U.S. high school students admit to using steroids, up from six per cent two years ago. Some 11 per cent of students said they used human growth hormone, up from six per cent two years ago. “The numbers are staggering,” said Hooton, who started the foundation after son Taylor hanged himself in his room in 2003 during withdrawal from steroids. “There is no reason to think the numbers are appreciably different in Canada.” Towriss told TSN that after a scandal at the University of Waterloo in 2010, when the football program was suspended after a wave of players were discovered using steroids, there was a brief period when drug testing increased. He said it was typical for as many as eight players to be tested by the CCES at training camp, with another eight facing random tests midseason. There would also be tests following playoff games. “We hadn’t seen anyone tested, maybe one person tested after a playoff game, in four years,” Towriss said in an interview. Towriss said he’s can’t release the results of his school’s investigation yet, but it won’t threaten the program’s upcoming season. “If it was large-scale it would have been a big hit, but maybe that would be a good thing,” he said. “We didn’t think it was, and it was proven that way.” Justin MacNeill, a spokesman for the CCES, said that his agency has received the reported results for all of the University of Saskatchewan testing mission. “The process for managing results under the (Canadian anti-doping program) is underway,” he said. “CCES does not typically report negative results and any determinations of anti-doping rule violations would be publicly reported as per the requirements of the CADP.” Some officials worry that most of the 200 tests the CIS has planned for the upcoming academic year are urine tests, which experts say don’t detect human growth hormone. Doug MacQuarrie, the CCES’s chief operating officer, refused to say whether any athletes would be tested for blood doping. “While the CCES has confirmed publicly that it plans to conduct approximately 200 tests on athletes who compete in Canadian university sport, we do not disclose details associated with our testing plans,” he said. “However, we can confirm all athletes subject to the Canadian Anti-Doping Program could be tested at any time, and that any test may include analysis for human growth hormone.” There are other reasons for concern. According to data collected by the Canada Border Services Agency and obtained by TSN, Canadian federal officials over the past five years have secured $20.4 million worth of illegal steroids in 10,890 seizures at border entry points. In 2013, some $2.1 million worth of steroids was seized during 1,837 seizures—which works out to five seizures per day. “As smugglers are increasingly utilizing more sophisticated concealment methods in smuggling attempts, the CBSA employs a number of tools to stop the flow of illegal and prohibited materials into Canada,” said Esme Bailey, a CBSA spokesperson. “Contraband Detection tools such as the Gamma-Ray technology, X-ray machines, and many others assist our officers, along with their training, expertise and knowledge, in detecting contraband and prohibited or restricted goods.” The biggest seizures of steroids in 2013 occurred at the CBSA’s mail entry points in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver ($1.4 million); Vancouver International Airport ($198,270); and Toronto’s Pearson International Airport ($136,832). Highlighting how widespread steroid smuggling has become, the illegal drug was also seized at border entry points including Wild Horse, Man., Osoyoos, B.C., and Oungre, Sask. http://www.tsn.ca/story/?id=460561