School testing cadets, civilian employees

Updated: July 14, 2004, 6:06 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press