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Universities' policies vary widely on steroids

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By Scott Brown
Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, 11:13 p.m.

West Virginia University football players who test positive for steroids have to call their parents in the presence of head coach Dana Holgorsen and inform them of the failed test.

They also have to submit to an evaluation at the university's Carruth Center for Counseling and Psychological Services and are kicked off the team permanently if they test positive a third time.

At Penn State University, football players are booted from the team after a second offense.

That's just one example of the lack of uniformity in steroid testing in major-college football. An Associated Press report released Thursday examines the link between significant weight gain among major-college football players and their easy access to steroids, and universities' inconsistent testing policies.

The University of Pittsburgh says players who test positive for steroids, or any banned drug, are subject to “consequences that range from suspension from competition to dismissal and loss of scholarship.”

Pitt did not offer specifics but said its players are tested for steroids randomly, and the severity of punishment increases with every failed test.

West Virginia, like Pitt, includes steroids in the school's drug policy for athletes.

A Mountaineers football player faces the same punishment whether he tests positive for steroids or marijuana, an athletic department spokesman said.

A player must undergo a psychological review after a first failed drug test and is not reinstated until he passes a drug test. A second failed test costs a player 10 percent of the team's games, and the punishment can be carried over into the next season.

A third failed test is essentially a third strike, as the player is kicked off the team and loses his scholarship.

Penn State has a specific policy for steroids, spokesman Jeff Nelson said, and players are subject to random tests on a weekly basis throughout the year. A first failed test results in a year's suspension. A second failed test leads to that player getting kicked off the team permanently.

Penn State's policy follows what the NCAA recommends.

Staff writers Jerry DiPaola and John Harris contributed to this report. Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at

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