Pima athletes not tested for steroids due to cost

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By Joshua Bracamonte



In Major League Baseball and the National Football League, steroid allegations have been the “hot topic” recently.

The professional athletes who are being named include the likes of Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi. They are not only doing damage to their bodies and paying the consequences through the eyes of the media, but they are also setting a bad example for today’s high school and collegiate athletes.

In many universities around the country, there is steroid testing, but at the junior college level, including the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference, there is no testing for steroids or human growth hormones, according to Robert Riza, the athletic director at Pima Community College.

Human growth hormones, better known as steroids, can be taken as pills or injection. They promote significant increase in muscle mass, strength and endurance.

There are many downfalls in taking steroids, such as increased aggressive behavior (or “Roid Rage”), trembling, high-blood pressure, aching joints and liver tumors.

At the junior college level at Pima Community College, the school seems to think it is not necessary to test its athletes for steroids.

School officials have to see what is going on in the news when they see high school and college athletes killed by the use of steroids or the allegations in professional sports.

Apparently, they don’t factor in the concern for health issue for those track athletes who contemplate the use of steroids to help them reach their goals of making it to a major university or the Olympics, or even a baseball player who found out he got drafted by a major league team and thinks to himself that he has to be bigger and stronger if he wants to be a successful big leaguer by using illegal enhancing drugs.

Riza has dealt with athletes using steroids in his home state of Texas.

“I have seen families go through this,” Riza said.  “There are deaths at the high school level and you can’t tell if some of the kids are using steroids.”

The only drug testing at PCC is for cocaine and marijuana and that costs as much as $25 an athlete. If the school chose to test for steroids, it could cost as much as $100.

Ben Carbajal, who has been PCC’s athletic trainer for the past 26 years, said that PCC has never tested for steroids since his tenure at the school.

“There is an expense issue involved,” Carbajal said.

“There have been coaches who have confronted the issue with some athletes in the past about the use of steroids.

“On an as-need basis, the other kind of drug testing [for cocaine and marijuana] is done periodically.”

Carbajal also said athletes in the past have been known to find steroids easy.

“If there is an injury to an athlete, I will ask them what kind of medications they are taking or if they are on any drugs before I treat them,” he said.

In a 2003 CNN report, a mind-boggling 42 percent of high school athletes bring in the habit of using steroids with them into college.

Riza doesn’t believe this number is accurate and said that it is being talked about too much in the news.

“The media has given the topic a lot of attention,” he said.  “Steroid use has been around for a very long time.

“I believe all of this talk about steroids in professional sports could die out shortly, but anytime you get Congress involved, it will be around for awhile.”

Riza went on to say that it is up to the leagues to fix the problem and that MLB and the NFL need to educate young athletes about the consequences of using steroids instead of reading Jose Canseco’s book “Juiced,” in which he condones the use of steroids in a proper manner.

“In order to get Pima to test for steroids and throughout the ACCAC, it needs to get passed by school board officials,” Riza said.

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