Schools debate drug testing high school athletes

SUBURBAN WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - School across South Florida are debating drug testing student athletes after the Miami-Dade County School District announced Tuesday it would begin a pilot program.

The announcement comes on the same day seven were charged in a South Florida doping scandal that rocked Major League Baseball.

Local high school football teams are getting back onto the field for early practice now with steroids and performance enhancing drugs on their minds once again.

Parent John Hanson, whose son Jake plays football at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, said he would be all for drug testing student athletes.

"Well, absolutely, no question about it because it's the only way to keep the playing field level," said Hanson.

Head football coach Doug Socha said his program already does do drug testing. He said if coaches suspect PED or steroid use, they test the player. "We're in the day in age that things are assessable. Kids can get to this stuff," said Socha.

But Oxbridge Academy is a private school, it can afford the tests.

Costs have been the long concern among public schools in Palm Beach County. "I think there are challenges that go with that, but, I think, it's a must. We're to that point where we have got to be able to do it," said Socha.

The Palm Beach County School District released a statement writing: "The school district is not planning on and has not in the past conducted random drug tests on students".

Hanson said while drug use in high school athletics is a reality, he feels, it does not need to be. "I just know it's out there, and it happens. It's just not good for the kids."
The Palm Beach County School District said it previously conducted a pilot drug testing program for baseball programs. But a spokesperson said that was funded through a grant and temporary.

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