Exclusive: Drug Tests 'Joke' As Players Bulk Up
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An AP investigation found college football players gaining weight so rapidly that it is statistically suspicious. Along with interviews with players, testers and experts, it contradicts the NCAA's low reported rate of positive steroid tests. (Dec. 20)


DURATION: 3:01-----------------------------------------SHOTLIST:APTN SHOT SHEET - shot on various dates & locations1) Former college football player Bryan Maneafaiga practicing fire dance & baton twirling - shot in Richmond, CA on 11/262) practicing tight3) shadow practicing4) low angle practicing5) SOUNDBITE: Bryan Maneafaiga, Former College Football Player "I tried it because the mindset of most young men in football is, I got to get bigger."6) Aloha Stadium - shot 12/12 in Honolulu7) football sign cutaway8) U of Hawaii logo9) Aloha Staidum sign10) trolley passes stadium11) Kezar Stadium (unidentifiable football field) - shot in San Francisco on 12/1012) football field grass13) track runners jog around football field14) stadium bleachers15) bleachers different angle16) scoreboard17) field lights18) SOUNDBITE: Rusty Payne, DEA Spokesperson - shot in NYC, date unknown "Something is missing here. There's no uniform standard for this apparently or the testing is shoddy or NCAA sports are clean, which I think we know is not the case."19) SOUNDBITE: Don Catlin, Steroids Testing Expert - shot in Los Angeles on 12/3 "So it's a joke. It's not a serious sort of thing."20) Catlin in his home office21) steroid testing documents22) Catlin looks at documents23) steroids testing lab in Tustin, CA - shot on 12/1424) lab sample tray close25) steroids testing machine takes sample26) testing machine wider27) robotic arm opens drawer28) tight liquid shot29) veils of liquid turn in machine30) entire testing machine wide31) another tight machine shot32) lab workers look at testing results33) monitor close34) wide lab shot35) Catlin talks to lab workers36) lab worker listens to Catlin37) Catlin looks at screen38) lab worker injects samples39) injecting different angle40) putting caps on sample container41) lab worker cutaway42) SOUNDBITE: Don Catlin, Steroids Testing Expert "And then they argue that they're testing for them. Technically they're correct. But if you pin them down and say the reason your rates are so low is you don't test for all of them. All the athletes know that of course so they're not going to come in on stanozolol if they know you're testing for it. That's stupid."43) University of North Carolina football stadium - shot on 12/10 in Chapel Hill, NC44) UNC logo45) UNC football helmet sign46) athletes run on football field47) Maryland Terps sign - shot on 12/10 in College Park, MD48) Maryland mascot statue49) Maryland football field50) Maryland press box51) Bryan Maneafaiga looks out at marina52) Bryan Maneafaiga face cutaway53) SOUNDBITE: Bryan Maneafaiga, Former College Football Player "You might win for a little while but you're not going to win forever because it's going to catch up with you. Whatever the consequence is, it's going to happen."54) Maneafaiga looks at marina, shot from behindVOICE-OVER SCRIPT:[Location: Richmond, CA][Source: AP][Video: polynesian baton twirling]BRYAN MANEAFAIGA SHOWS OFF HIS POLYNESIAN PRIDE THROUGH TRADITIONAL DANCE.[Location: Honolulu, HI][Source: AP][Video: Aloha Stadium]BUT HE'S NOT PROUD OF WHAT HE DID WHILE PLAYING FOOTBALL FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII.HE SAYS HE TOOK STEROIDS...AND NEVER GOT CAUGHT.[SOT/Bryan Maneafaiga/Former College Football Player] ("I tried it because the mindset of most young men in football is, I got to get bigger.")[NCAA logo]THE NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION SAYS BRYAN'S STORY IS THE EXCEPTION.[Location: Tustin, CA][Source: AP][Video: steroids testing lab]THE N-C-A-A REPORTS THE FAILURE RATES OF ITS STEROIDS TESTING AT LESS THAN ONE PERCENT....BUT THAT LOW PERCENTAGE IS UNDER SCRUTINY.[Nicole Grether's fullscreen graphic]THE ASSOCIATED PRESS EXAMINED THE WEIGHTS OF MORE THAN 60 THOUSAND PLAYERS ON ROSTERS FROM 120 TEAMS OVER THE PAST DECADE.IT FOUND THOUSANDS OF PLAYERS RAPIDLY PUTTING ON SIGNIFICANT WEIGHT...WITH HUNDREDS GAINING AS MUCH AS 80 POUNDS IN LESS THAN A YEAR....OR 40 PERCENT OF THEIR BODY MASS.EXPERTS SAY THE GAINS ARE UNUSUAL.[Rusty Payne/DEA Spokesperson]("Something is missing here. There's no uniform standard for this apparently or the testing is shoddy or NCAA sports are clean, which I think we know is not the case.")[Don Catlin/Steroids Testing Expert]("So it's a joke. It's not a serious sort of thing.")[Location: Los Angeles, CA][Source: AP][Video: Caitlin looks over steroids documents in office]ANTI-DOPING PIONEER DON CATLIN SPENT YEARS CONDUCTING THE N-C-A-A'S LABORATORY TESTS.HE SAYS HIS FRUSTRATION WITH THE COLLEGE SYSTEM'S INADEQUATE TESTING PROGRAM WAS ONE OF THE REASONS HE LEFT.[more testing lab broll]HE SAYS TEAMS ARE OFTEN GIVEN SEVERAL DAYS WARNING BEFORE TESTS ARE CONDUCTED...MORE THAN ENOUGH TIME TO FLUSH WATER-BASED STEROIDS FROM THE BODY...AND HE SAYS IT'S WIDELY KNOWN THAT THE TESTS BEING CONDUCTED ARE NOT DESIGNED TO CATCH CERTAIN TYPES OF STEROIDS.[Don Catlin/Steroids Testing Expert]("And then they argue that they're testing for them. Technically they're correct. But if you pin them down and say the reason your rates are so low is you don't test for all of them. All the athletes know that of course so they're not going to come in on stanozolol if they know you're testing for it. That's stupid.")[Location: Chapel Hill, NC][Source: AP][Video: UNC football stadium]SOME SCHOOLS DO HAVE TOUGH POLICIES IF A PLAYER IS CAUGHT USING STEROIDS.NORTH CAROLINA KICKS PLAYERS OFF THE TEAM AFTER A SINGLE POSITIVE TEST.[Location: College Park, MD][Source: AP][Video: Maryland football stadium]BUT OTHER SCHOOLS BARELY PUNISH PLAYERS AT ALLAT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, STUDENTS MUST GET COUNSELING AFTER TESTING POSITIVE...BUT THE SCHOOL PROHIBITS DISCIPLINING FIRST-TIME STEROID USERS.[Location: Richmond, CA][Source: AP][Video: Maneafaiga stands at marina, looks out at the bay]BRYAN EVENTUALLY SUFFERED NAGGING INJURIES HE BLAMED ON THE DRUGS AND STOPPED TAKING THEM.NOW HE WARNS YOUNGER PLAYERS TO STAY AWAY FROM STEROIDS.[SOT/Bryan Maneafaiga/Former College Football Player] ("You might win for a little while but you're not going to win forever because it's going to catch up with you. Whatever the consequence is, it's going to happen.")HAVEN DALEY, ASSOCIATED PRESS, RICHMOND, CALIFORNIA.(****END****)STORYLINE: In the summer of 2004, Bryan was an undersized 184-pound running back trying to make the University of Hawaii football team. Twice, however, he failed school drug tests, once in pre-season and once in the fall.Both tests were positive for marijuana, which surprised him. Not because he wasn't smoking pot. He was. He just figured they'd also notice that he was using steroids.He'd started injecting stanozolol in the summer to help bulk up to a roster weight of 200 pounds. Once on the team, where he saw only occasional playing time, he'd occasionally inject the milky liquid into his buttocks the day before games."Food and good training will only get you so far," he told The Associated Press recently.Maneafaiga's experience at a middle-of-the-road football school is notable only for its timing. His coach, former NFL head coach June Jones, believed steroids had been eliminated in college football."I would say 100 percent," he told the Honolulu Advertiser in 2006.That's the disconnect in college football, a sport in which a tiny number of positive drug tests and a veil of secrecy conceals the reality: Steroids are easy to buy, testing is weak and punishments are lax. Players, meanwhile, get bigger and bigger, quickly packing on enormous weight without raising eyebrows or triggering mandatory testing.While the use of drugs in professional sports is a question of fairness, their use among college athletes is particularly important as a public policy issue. That's because most top-tier football teams are from public schools that benefit from millions each year in taxpayer subsidies. Their athletes are essentially wards of the state. Coaches and trainers _ the ones who tell players how to behave, how to exercise and what to eat _ are government employees.While other major sports have been beset by admissions of steroid use, major-college football has operated with barely a whiff of scandal. During the era of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong, college football has been an anomaly in the world of sports.Between 1996 and 2010, a period marked by steroid scandals in other sports, the failure rate for steroid tests conducted by the NCAA fell even closer to zero from an already low rate of less than 1 percent.But an AP investigation, drawing upon more than a decade of official rosters from all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams, found players putting on significant weight at rapid rates, even when compared to their peers in elite college football. In some instances, players gained so much weight as to be statistically suspicious.The information compiled by the AP included 61,000 athletes who appeared for multiple years on the same teams, making it the most comprehensive data available. When combined with interviews with players, testers, dealers and experts, it paints a picture that does not jibe with the extremely low rate of positive steroid tests.The NCAA attributes that decline to its year-round drug testing program, combined with anti-drug education and testing conducted by schools."It's what we in the prevention field call a comprehensive effort where you're bringing various forces to reinforce this zero tolerance," said Mary Wilfert, the NCAA's associate director of health and safety. "The effort has been increasing, and we believe it has driven down use."But anti-doping pioneer Don Catlin spent years conducting the NCAA's laboratory tests and concluded otherwise. The collegiate system, he said, is designed to not catch steroid users. That artificially lowers the positive testing numbers and keeps schools safe from embarrassing drug scandals."It's nothing like what's going on in reality," said Catlin, who said frustration with the college system was one of the reasons he left the testing industry to focus on anti-doping research.The AP's analysis found that, regardless of school, conference and win-loss record, many players gained weight at statistically unusual rates compared to their fellow athletes. The gains were not explainable even when correcting for the amount of money schools spend on weight rooms, trainers and other football expenses, or when correcting for positions, so speedy wide receivers aren't compared to larger offensive tackles.For decades, scientific studies have shown that anabolic steroid use leads to an increase in bodyweight. And while weight gain alone doesn't prove steroid use, rapid weight gain is one factor that would be deemed suspicious, said Kathy Turpin, senior director of sport drug testing for the National Center for Drug Free Sport, which conducts tests for the NCAA and more than 300 schools.Putting on more than 20 or 25 pounds of lean muscle in a year is nearly impossible through diet and exercise alone, said Dan Benardot, director of the Laboratory for Elite Athlete Performance at Georgia State University.The AP found more than 4,700 players who gained more than 20 pounds in a single year. It was common for young men to gain 10, 15 and 20 pounds in their first year under a rigorous regimen of weightlifting and diet. Others gained 25, 35 and 40 pounds in a season. In some cases, players packed on 50, 60 even 80 pounds or more in a single year.The 100 or so players who gained massive amounts of weight in one year did so at rates that were statistically improbable, even for big-time college football players.The numbers suggest something is bubbling under the surface in college football, something that helps elite athletes gain unusual amounts of weight. Without access to detailed information about each player's body composition, drug testing and workout regimen, which schools do not release, it's impossible to say with certainty what's behind the trend. But Catlin has little doubt: It's steroids."It's not brain surgery to figure out what's going on," he said. "To me, it's very clear."Wilfert said the NCAA has never studied weight gain or considered it in regards to its steroid testing policies. She would not speculate on the cause of such rapid weight gain.Football's most infamous steroid user was Lyle Alzado, who became a star NFL defensive end in the 1970s and 80s before admitted juicing his entire career. He started in college, where the 190-pound freshman gained 40 pounds in one year. It was a 21 percent jump in body mass, a tremendous gain that far exceeded what researchers have seen in controlled, short-term studies of steroid use by athletes. Alzado died of brain cancer in 1992.The AP found nearly 600 big-time college football players who showed comparable one-year gains in the past decade. Students posted such extraordinary weight gains across the country, in every conference, in nearly every school. Many of them eclipsed Alzado and gained 25, 35, even 40 percent of their body mass.Ben Lamaak, who arrived at Iowa State in 2006, left high school weighing 225 pounds. After one year on the Cyclones football team, the former basketball player from Cedar Rapids, weighed 306, a gain of 81 pounds. He graduated a 320-pound offensive lineman and said he did it all naturally."I was just a young kid at that time and I was still growing into my body," he said. "It really wasn't that hard for me to gain to the weight. I had fun doing it. I love to eat. It wasn't a problem."In addition to random drug testing, Iowa State is one of many schools that have "reasonable suspicion" testing. That means players can be tested when their behavior or physical symptoms suggest drug use.Despite gaining 81 pounds in a year, Lamaak said he was never singled out for testing.Mark Coberley, the associate athletics director for athletic training at Iowa State, said coaches and trainers use body composition, strength data and other factors to spot suspected cheaters. Lamaak, he said, was not suspicious because he gained a lot of "non-lean" weight."There's a lot of things that go into trying to identify whether guys are using performance enhancing drugs," Coberley said. "If anybody had the answer, they'd be spotting people that do it. We keep our radar up and watch for things that are suspicious and try to protect the kids from making stupid decisions."There is no evidence that Lamaak's weight gain was anything but natural. Gaining fat is much easier than gaining muscle. Without knowing more, Bernadot said, it's impossible to say whether large athletes were putting on suspicious amounts of muscle or simply becoming obese, which is defined as a body mass index greater than 30.