New Policy for Drug Testing of Athletes Surfaces at Dickinson

Rachael Franchini ’19, Editor-in-Chief

A new drug testing policy that creates automatic sanctioning for drug offenses and allows for random selection and frequency of testing of athletes was approved for Dickinson’s Athletic Department for the beginning of the 2016 fall semester.

According to Joe Giunta, director of athletics, the goal of the new program is to “encourage and protect the health and safety of our student-athletes, promote fair play in competition and provide a consistent baseline of accountability from sport to sport.”

Athletes that are subject to testing will be randomly tested a few times per academic year, reports Giunta. The random selection, the acquisition of the sample and the evaluation of the sample will be done by Quest Diagnostics, whom Giunta qualifies as “a leader in the health care industry.”

The drug policy creates automatic sanctioning for drug offenses for athletes who test positive, and does not include a right to appeal. The repercussions depend on the prior record of the student-athlete, the circumstances of the violation and “other pertinent factors.”

According to the Dickinson College community standards, the right to appeal a decision made by hearing panel or hearing officer following a formal resolution is permitted for all other violations of community standards, including but not limited to, discriminatory conduct, hazing, theft, and damage to property.

“All those who were involved in developing this policy felt that the outcome of a positive test provides definitive proof of a violation of the policy,” states Giunta.  “Therefore, there is no room for an appeal.”

Within the document, there is no information about the specific details or outline for testing, which, Giunta maintains, was left intentionally vague to “allow for maximum flexibility.”  The testing company, Quest Diagnosis, was also not mentioned by name in the document.

“The name of the company was omitted in case a compelling reason might cause us to make a change, such as the company going out of business, changing to a less convenient location or dramatically increas[ing] their costs… However, I have shared [the name of the company] with each [sports] team.”

“I have met with every team individually…I have addressed specific details about the program, how and why it was developed, and allowed time to answer all the questions they may have,” Giunta says.  “It has been a great exercise and I feel, based on their responses that the large majority of student-athletes understand the commitment it takes to be a student-athlete, especially at an institution like Dickinson, and respect what we are trying to do with the new policy.”

Leah Guzick ’20, a member of the college’s volleyball team, states, “Since I’m a first-year, I wasn’t around for the previous drug testing policy.  I think it’s a good idea to have one that applies to all athletes the same way.”

Football player Michael Sinclair ’18, however, expressed, “I think a general agreement is that all sport teams already have [drug testing] policies, many harsher than the new policy.  So, most athletes don’t really care about the policy.”

There was no student involvement in the creation of the new policy, however “it was our intention to involve students in the educational initiatives upon SAAC [Student Athlete Advisory Committee]’s return to campus for the new academic year,” states Giunta. “The majority of the research for this new policy was completed in the spring semester and developed over the summer while students were not on campus.”

In terms of the educational initiatives of the new program, they are “still in the development stage.” The partnership with SAAC will “ensure [that] the educational benefits are meaningful and substantial.”