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School testing cadets, civilian employees

7/14/2004 - Air Force Falcons

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The Air Force Academy has begun
randomly testing everyone from cadets to civilian employees for
steroids amid an investigation into the use of the drug among
students.

The tests began last month and include active-duty military
personnel at the school and students at the academy's preparatory
school along with civilian workers and the approximately 4,000
cadets.

Four cadets, including members of the Air Force football team,
were charged with possession or distribution of steroids, the
academy announced earlier this month. A fifth cadet is under
investigation, academy spokesman Johnny Whitaker told The Gazette
of Colorado Springs on Tuesday.

Officials would not say whether the drug tests were a factor in
the charges.

The Defense Department requires all military facilities to
randomly test 65 percent of their populations each year for drugs
including cocaine and Ecstasy, said Betty Ann Mauger, a spokeswoman
for the Air Force Surgeon General's Office. Steroid tests are
performed only at the request of commanders.

In April, the academy's Drug Demand Reduction Program
recommended random steroid tests for the entire school.

"With how easy it is to go out and procure these anabolic
steroids, there was a growing fear," said Col. Jim Riggins, vice
commander of the 10th Air Base Wing.

Drug Demand Reduction Program director Kevin Mills estimated
that the academy tests 80 to 90 percent of the population every
year for drugs.

"It's all about deterrence ... to let the military personnel
know that if you choose to elect to go down this road that there is
a system in place that is guaranteed to pick that up if you
continue to display that type of behavior," Mills said.

Riggins estimated that 22 to 30 academy athletes are also tested
for steroids by the NCAA every year.