Tougher drug tests for student athletes deemed successful


   Avoyelles Parish’s new drug test policy for student athletes got a good grade in its first test, the School Board Executive Committee was told at its Aug. 23 meeting.
  Superintendent Blaine Dauzat said the policy requires every student athlete to be tested for drugs prior to the start of his or her sport’s season. They are also subject to random drug testing during the season.
  Approximately 140 student athletes in the three football-playing schools were tested. Only four tested positive -- two at Marksville High and two at Avoyelles High. Those students are prohibited from playing for at least 30 days. They can be retested in 30 days to determine if they can rejoin their teams.
   In addition to the athletes, the district’s policy requires at least 10 percent of all other students participating in extracurricular activities and/or with school campus parking permits to be tested during the school year.
   Activities such as cheerleading, danceline and band are considered in the “extracurricular activities” portion of the drug testing policy and not as student athletes.
   Board member Mike LaCombe, attending the meeting but not a committee member, asked if the policy might discriminate against student athletes by holding them to a higher standard than students in non-athletic activities.
   The committee members replied that student athletes should be held to a higher standard.
  In discussion earlier this year on strengthening the drug testing policy for athletes, Board President Darrell Wiley said drug testing “helps with discipline and it helps the kids. It can save a kid. There is no place in sports for drugs.”
   The drug tests cost about $25 each, which also tests for synthetic marijuana -- a substance law enforcement officials in the parish list as a serious problem.


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