Pitt-Johnstown athletes stay drug free


Sarah Rizzitano

Pitt-Johnstown third-basemen Joe Gagliardi caught a ball during pre-game warmups against Gannon University last year in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conferece.

Cory Geer, Sports Editor

NCAA officials have a strict policy on performance-enhancing drugs and street drugs.

The NCAA considers performance-enhancing drugs different from street drugs. Drugs taken that could have adverse effects on a student athlete include marijauna, cocaine and heroin are considered street drugs.

The penalty for testing positive for street drugs is losing half a year of eligibility for the first offense.

  A second positive test for a street drug results in the loss of a year of eligibility and withholding from participation for 365 days after the test.

Performance-enhancing drugs are ruled by the NCAA to alter on field results and provide an unfair advantage to the team and player.

The penalty for a testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug is student-athletes lose one full year of eligibility for the first offense and are withheld from competition for 365 days after the date of the test. A second positive test for a performance-enhancing drugs results in the loss of all remaining eligibility to compete.

Pitt-Johnstown baseball player Joe Gagliardi said he agrees with the NCAA’s policy on different punishments for street drugs and performance-enhancing drugs.

“Performance enhancers should be a longer ban than streets drugs because I feel that street drugs are not going to give the athlete an edge,” said Gagliardi.

Pitt-Johnstown athlete Ty Black said the suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs should be more severe.

“Users should get a lifetime ban from the NCAA. It compromises the integrity of the game,” said Black.

Pitt-Johnstown student and sports fan Rudy Gleixnor said he doesn’t care what drugs athletes take.

“When I’m watching college football or college basketball, I don’t care if the athletes are taking performance-enhancing drugs. I’m watching to be entertained, and that is what sports does for me.”

The NCAA has seven different categories of performance-enhancing drugs. According to the Mayo Clinic, athletes use stimulants for two reasons: to heighten energy levels and to boast endurance. A commonly known drug that falls in this category is Adderall.

Anabolic agents are any group of synthetic or natural steroid hormones that build muscle by mimicking or boosting male-producing hormones, such as testosterone.

Beta-blockers help athletes in sports such as rifle shooting or archery where nervousness can harm performance.

Diuretics, sometimes known as water pills, are drugs, which draw excess fluid from the tissues of the body and convert it into urine. Athletes use this to help dilute their test sample and pass their drug test.

A student athlete who is involved in a case of clearly observed tampering with an NCAA drug test, as documented per NCAA drug testing protocol by a drug-testing crew member, shall be declared ineligible for further participation in postseason and regular-season competition for two years, according to NCAA website.

Peptide hormones and analogues are commonly referred to as human growth hormone. Athletes use this to build muscle mass quicker.

While human growth hormone is considered to be a banned substance, it will not show up in a urine sample.

Anti-estrogens are used to counteract the side effects of anabolic agents.

Beta-2 agonists are a drug that opens the bronchial airways and often helps build muscle. Agonist are often referred to as a drug that stimulates natural processes in the body They are clinically used to help asthma patients.

Caffeine, a common drug found in soda and coffee, is considered a performance-enhancing drug; if a student was to have a large amount of caffeine in their body, they would test positive for stimulants.

Drug Testing Coordinator for Pitt-Johnstown, Elissa Till, said that caffeine is a banned substance because in high doses could improve an athletes performance.

“Caffeine, in high doses, is a banned substance and has been proven to increase alertness, decrease reaction time, and decrease the perception of effort,” said Till.

They enforce a randomized process to test athletes, Till said.

“The NCAA conducts random drug testing for all student athletes. They can test as many or as few as they wish.”

Assistant Athletic Director Katrin Wolfe said athletic officials are notified when and where a drug test will take place.

About 24 hours before the test, they provide a list of athletes who were randomly chosen for the test.  The student athletes then  show up at the designated time and take the drug test.

Gagliardi said drug testing is good for college athletes.

“Being an athlete, I want there to be an equal playing field out there. I feel that drug testing is key to making that happen. My teammates and myself were selected to get drug tested this past fall, and we all passed. It is something that has to be done in college sports today,” said Gagliardi.

Gagliardi said he felt his privacy was violated  while taking the drug test.

“The representative watched us pee in the cup to make sure we weren’t doing anything to our urine or using fake urine. I thought it was a little much, I mean I understand they have to make sure we don’t cheat the test but standing 2 feet from you and watching you (urinate) in the cup is pretty awkward to say the least,” said Gagliardi.

Till said, in the past four years, no Pitt-Johnstown athlete has failed a drug test conducted by Drug Free Sport.