IHSA selects National Center for Drug Free Sport to facilitate drug-testing program
From press release
The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors, at its Feb. 8 meeting, approved a recommendation to select The National Center for Drug Free Sport to serve as the IHSA’s drug-testing vendor for its Performance-Enhancing Drug Testing program.
The IHSA sent out a Request For Proposals to drug-testing vendors nationwide earlier this year, and last week a committee that included IHSA staff members and a representative from the state’s Department of Public Health reviewed the submissions. The committee unanimously recommended The National Center for Drug Free Sport, whose headquarters are in Kansas City, to the IHSA Board. The National Center for Drug Free Sport conducted the IHSA’s testing during the 2008-09 school term, as well as during the fall of 2009.
“I think Drug Free Sport’s previous relationship with the IHSA had the chance to both help and hinder them throughout this process,” said IHSA Assistant Executive Director Kurt Gibson. “In the end, their proposal graded out the highest by each of our committee members, so it was an easy decision for us to continue our relationship with them.”
The new contract will encompass more than 2,000 tests during the remainder of the 2009-10 school term and the entire 2010-11 school term.
The IHSA became the fourth high school state association in the country to begin testing for performance-enhancing drugs during the 2008-09 school year, when the association privately contracted with Drug Free Sport to conduct testing of student-athletes at member schools during State Series events.
In August of 2009, the governor of Illinois signed House Bill 272 into law, which provides new mandated guidelines for the IHSA’s testing. Among the significant changes of HB 272 are a requirement to test 1,000 student-athletes per school year, for approximately 25 percent of the IHSA’s member schools to be included among the minimum 1,000 tests, allowing the testing to occur year-round during the school year and for a coaches’ education program to be developed.
“There are still hurdles to be cleared in terms of implementing the program under the new state guidelines, especially financially, but securing a reputable vendor was an important first step,” added Gibson.
With specifics of the new state testing yet to be solidified, the IHSA continued its own testing program in the fall of 2009 and hopes to begin the state testing this winter. The coaches’ education program was put into place in early February, and requires every coach from each IHSA member school to go online and pass a required assessment.
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