Drug Testing in Athletics: Everything You Need to Know!

Drug Testing in Athletics: Everything You Need to Know!


Table of Contents:

A drug test is an integral part of an athlete’s life. An athlete goes through various drug tests during the professional part of their life.

Be it any sport, drug tests are conducted worldwide to maintain and enhance the spirit of play. Many athletes lose the position due to failing at drug tests and showing a positive sign for various drugs.

If you are a professional or aspiring athlete, you must know the ins and outs of drug tests conducted from time to time. Earlier when student-athletes were called for a drug test it used to be a big social issue, but with the support and order of the US Supreme Court, it is now legal to drug test student-athletes.

However, there are many aspects of drug testing that we will be discussing later in this article.

Why do some athletes use drugs?

Drugs have a lot of adverse effects on the body and athletes are aware of this. So, why do athletes risk their life by consuming drugs?

There are many reasons why athletes get attracted to drugs.

Being close to the athletics industry, you would have seen the fame and money that comes with being an athlete and become an integral part of some sport that is admired by millions of people.

Athletes, driven by fame and money might start pressurizing themselves to perform better. After every game, they’d want to be in the newspaper headlines and become the talk of the town. But unfortunately, life does not go this way.

There will be ups and downs throughout life. Having a victorious mindset is necessary but feeling lost just because people aren’t talking about your quality skills is also not a very healthy way to approach your career.

Athletes, who constantly feel the need to outmatch others in order to remain relevant, might start consuming performance-enhancing drugs. Different drugs are consumed by athletes as per their sport and physical condition. These drugs help athletes to make the extra effort in the field than what they used to do in general.

Though these drugs help athletes to gain both money and fame; it is highly unethical and illegal.

If you are going to be an athlete, you should remember that drugs won’t help you for a long time. They might bring rewards to you in a few games and feel like a solution, but sooner or later, drugs will start degrading your body.

Drugs might also disturb your mind and force you to perform abnormal activities which will act as a reason for suspicion. You might get called for a drug test due to your suspicious behavior and if you test positive; it can be an official or forceful end of your career.

Therefore, no matter how much you are struggling to perform in the game, you should never consume drugs. To have a long-term and successful career, being ethical and hard-working is the only way ahead.

Common Drugs taken by Athletes to Increase Performance

It is no surprise that many athletes do consume performance-enhancing drugs. You would have seen athletes accepting the fact that their great performance was influenced by some drugs.

Peer pressure, having a socially accepted body, performing better than others, gaining muscle mass, and increasing strength and endurance are some of the reasons why athletes consume performance-enhancing drugs.

If you want to make a great career in athletics, you should know the performance-enhancing drugs most athletes consume ruins their body as well as career.

Knowing about these drugs will ensure that you do not consume them even by mistake.


We are quite familiar with caffeine. We often consume caffeine in tea or coffee. Though athletes are allowed to consume caffeine, they might test positive for unwanted substances if caffeine is consumed in a large amount.

Caffeine increases alertness and endurance by stimulating our central nervous system.

Consuming around 5-8 cups of coffee before play will result in a positive drug test. It is immensely critical for you to reduce your caffeine consumption before you become a professional athlete.


Creatine is produced in our liver and is also sold over the counter. It is majorly used by athletes who want a quick burst of energy within 10-30 seconds.

Though athletes are free to consume it, there are few cases reported of negative effects due to consumption of creatine.

You, as a future athlete, should know the requirements of your body and sport. Taking drugs relentlessly just to perform better might give you severe physical pain.


The role of amphetamines is similar to that of caffeine in an athlete’s life but amphetamine is prohibited for athletes to use.

Amphetamines increase alertness as it acts as stimulate to the central nervous system. It supports the body to take certain reverse actions immediately in response to any action.

During play, taking immediate decisions and accurate decisions is immensely crucial and amphetamines help you to do that.

There are many stimulants like amphetamines that are prohibited as their consumption raises questions on the spirit of play.

Anabolic Steroids

Athletes consume anabolic steroids to increase muscle mass and strength. This drug is banned by all the major anti-drug agencies.

If you get tested positive for anabolic steroids, you might get banned for a lifetime and perhaps will never be allowed to enter stadiums.

One of the reasons why athletes take this illegal and harmful drug is that it reduces the risk of muscle damage during heavy workouts and intensity-driven games. Athletes want to work out frequently to be in shape and perform better than others.

It is not banned just to secure the spirit of play but also to safeguard the lives of athletes. As it increases muscle power, it also increases the risk of being caught by a lot of deadly diseases.

Kidney failure, liver damage or tumor, blood clotting, increased heart size, and heart attack (mostly seen in young athletes) or stroke are some of the common side effects of consuming anabolic steroids.  

So if you are young and want to be a professional athlete, always remember that drugs might call plenty of diseases. They will leave you in a miserable condition from where coming back to normal is almost impossible.

Should High school athletes have to take a drug test?

The parents of many high school athletes challenged drug testing in schools. But the US Supreme Court in 1995 said that the drug testing of student-athletes is absolutely legal under the fourth amendment in the constitution.

The court upheld the drug testing policy of a district school that says "Schools can call for random drug testing of students who want to participate in sports.""

Americans raised an objection that these drug tests violate the privacy of students and their families. The California Court replied that drug testing does not violate privacy according to the fourth amendment in the US constitution.

Moreover, students are not forced to participate in sports and hence, drug testing is legal and should be followed to maintain the spirit of play.

Can Atheletes refuse to take a drug test?

As per law, athletes will have to go for drug testing till they are participating in any sports event.

The test might be random based on suspicion, mandatory, or voluntary.

Suspicion-based random testing has played an immensely crucial role in reducing the consumption of drugs among school athletes. In suspicion-based random testing, athletes can be called anytime without notice due to any suspicious behavior on or off the field.

And due to the fear of getting a positive test report which would eventually end their career, most of the athletes have reduced or stopped consuming drugs.

If you want to make your career in athletics you should know that you can be called any time for a drug test and that’s why you must not consume drugs.

 Voluntary drug testing is mostly taken by the athletes who have tested positive previously. It is done to claim in public that the athlete is now free from drugs.

Many athletes take a drug test to show the spirit of play and to inspire younger athletes that quality performance can be executed without taking drugs. So if you are a younger athlete, you should preach this statement from the bottom of your heart.

Even if you do not come under the radar of random drug testing, there is mandatory drug testing for which you will have to show up.

Now the question is, is there a way to refuse drug testing?

In legal terms, there is no way for you to refuse a drug test or a random drug test. If you do so, you will be charged for violating the anti-doping policy.

You can only ask for some time a drug test if you have an immensely compelling and widely accepted reason.

In the past, some athletes didn’t show up for submitting the sample and the reasons were that they got injured during the training period or their children met with an accident but unfortunately, these reasons were not considered as compelling.

A compelling reason could be an earthquake or any other natural calamity that didn’t allow you to submit samples for drug tests.

Now there’s one more crucial aspect of drug testing. Even if you have not consumed any prohibited drugs in your life, you can still show a positive drug test report. The reason is “second-hand exposure”.

Second-hand exposure means that you neither consumed drugs on your own nor you did it unintentionally but someone in your surrounding consumed it and perhaps a few particles entered in your body.

For instance, if you are with someone in a car and the person is smoking with windows down, your report might turn positive.

If the parents of a child smoke, the child might test positive for tobacco. And this goes true for various drugs that can be transmitted through air or touch.

But this is reduced to a great extent as now there are cut-off levels for different drugs. Any athlete who has been called for drug testing should have the concentration of drugs in the body lower than the cut-off rates to avoid positive drug test reports.

This cut-off level policy has helped many young and school-going athletes who accidentally came in contact with drugs.

Do community colleges drug test Athletes?

Community colleges have mandatory drug testing programs to educate students on the adverse effects of drug use and to remove athletes who do not respect athletics.

It is done to know whether the athlete is in contact with drugs or not. If an athlete consumes a drug that is legal such as alcohol, the athlete will be provided medicines that will act as an inhibitor on the desire of consuming drugs.

Community colleges prepare athletes to perform better without consuming drugs and punish athletes who do not leave drugs even after getting warned.

If you are a student-athlete of a community college, you should always be ready for a drug test. You should always follow the procedures as they are being made to ensure that you perform well in global competitions.

Most common Drug Tests Used by Schools

The drug testing kits play a crucial role in a drug test as well as in the athlete’s life. If there is a fault in the drug testing kits, the athlete might lose the opportunity to play further games in an event.

And that’s why schools use the most trusted drug tests kits, i.e. 5-panel drug test kit. This kit assesses the urine sample thoroughly and gives accurate results.

It tests the sample for the 5 most common drugs that are tested in schools. They are COC, THC, MOR/OPI, METH, and BZO. The detection period and cut-off level vary for each drug.

The 5-panel drug test device also ensures that athletes should not get falsely assessed. Its accuracy is 99% and it’s a one-step process which means the kit is easy to use and therefore, there are fewer chances of a false report due to human intervention.

Bottom Line:

You, as an athlete, should not be afraid of drug testing and should volunteer drug tests in order to promote a healthy lifestyle. Drug tests are never troublesome if your body is clean. Moreover, you should remain away from unwanted substances to have a successful career in athletics.

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