Doping is a bigger deal at some schools than others.
At Notre Dame and Alabama, the teams that will soon compete for the national championship, players don't automatically miss games for testing positive for steroids. At Alabama, coaches have wide discretion. Notre Dame's student-athlete handbook says a player who fails a test can return to the field once the steroids are out of his system.
The University of North Carolina kicks players off the team after a single positive test for steroids. Auburn's student-athlete handbook calls for a half-season suspension for any athlete caught using performance-enhancing drugs.
At UCLA, home of the laboratory that for years set the standard for cutting-edge steroid testing, athletes can fail three drug tests before being suspended. At Bowling Green, testing is voluntary.
At the University of Maryland, students must get counseling after testing positive, but school officials are prohibited from disciplining first-time steroid users.
Only about half the student athletes in a 2009 NCAA survey said they believed school testing deterred drug use. As an association of colleges and universities, the NCAA could not unilaterally force schools to institute uniform testing policies and sanctions, Wilfert said.
"We can't tell them what to do, but if went through a membership process where they determined that this is what should be done, then it could happen," she said.
Associated Press writers Ryan Foley in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; David Brandt in Jackson, Miss.; David Skretta in Lawrence, Kan.; Don Thompson in Sacramento, Calif., and Alexa Olesen in Shanghai, China, and researchers Susan James in New York and Monika Mathur in Washington contributed to this report.
Contact the Washington investigative team at DCinvestigations (at) ap.org.
Whether for athletics or age, Americans from teenagers to baby boomers are trying to get an edge by illegally using anabolic steroids and human growth hormone, despite well-documented risks. This is the first of a two-part series.
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