By Phoebe Roe
In the spring of 2008 the Collegian published an opinion article that criticized the Kenyon athletic program’s drug testing policies. Writer and athlete Liz Hancock ’10 complained that the tests were demeaning, unnecessarily public and targeted athletes, making it seem as though the school was “out to get them.” Five years have passed since the article was published, and with time has come change.
Before, drug testing was often characterized as attempting to catch athletes in the act of using. The process itself was more public and unprofessional, and feelings like Hancock’s were widely felt across the student-athlete community.
Peter Smith, Kenyon’s athletic director, said Kenyon’s current drug testing policy mirrors the policy set forth by the NCAA.
“We try to duplicate as best [as] possible what the student athlete is going to be exposed to when they go to a championship situation,” he said. The idea is that if a student athlete is able to compete in an NCAA championship, he or she is eligible to be drug tested by the NCAA.
The system works like this: athletes from each sports team are randomly tested ﾗ theoretically, an athlete could go his or her entire Kenyon career and never be tested. If an athlete is selected and found to be taking drugs, he or she is referred to College Counselor Mike Durham, who puts the athletes through counseling sessions and eventually determines whether the athlete is eligible to return to his or her sport. When athletes return to their sport they undergo more random drug tests to ensure that they have stopped taking illegal substances.
The second time a student tests positive for drugs, he or she is ineligible to participate in his or her sport for one calendar year. The third time, he or she is permanently ineligible to participate in sports at Kenyon.
Smith says the college is not out to catch athletes, but, rather, to educate them. “We don’t just concentrate on drugs. We are putting this in and amongst nutrition,” he said. “It’s all about how we take care of ourselves.”
“We talk about hydration, we talk about choices, we have conversations with AVI about choices and about trying to help students understand what portions of a food do you have to eat for energy” said Smith.
The once-invasive drug testing process has been refined and made to be more respectful, and though athletes can and often do talk amongst themselves, the results of the drug tests are not made available to the public. The drug testing itself is now a smaller part of a bigger terminology. “That’s the change we’re making, the kind of shift. We’re still doing this but we’re showing you how it fits into a bigger picture,” said Smith.