New drug-testing lab tests professional athletes at U

The U has become the second university in the nation able to test NFL and Olympic athletes for performance enhancing drugs.

In a nationwide collaboration, the United States Anti-Doping Agency, the National Football League and the U Center for Human Toxicology have formed a new drug-testing laboratory that tests professional athletes’ blood, specifically that of NFL players, for the use and detection of prohibited and performance-enhancing drugs.

In the U’s request for a proposal, the USADA and the NFL narrowed their decision down to the U.

“[The U] was a leading candidate and was allocated for that reason,” said USADA senior managing director Larry Bowers.

The 2002 Winter Olympic Games, hosted by Salt Lake City, played a part in USADA’s decision, along with a university where modern drug testing and research could be provided.

“The elimination of dangerous performance enhancing substances from sports requires intensive state-of-the-art research on an ongoing basis,” said NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

“New challenges are constantly being presented and must be aggressively addressed by all of us in professional and amateur sports. The establishment of this new lab in partnership with USADA is an important step in this process,” he said.

Funding for the new lab has initially been provided by the NFL and USADA, as well as through a grant provided by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and the United States Olympic Committee.

A $500,000 gift from the SLOC and USOC, $1.5 million from USADA and $1.1 million from the NFL will be given to the U over a period of five years.

Funding will go toward employees’ salaries, lab equipment and research.

Nine new instruments will be introduced to the lab, ranging in price from $165,000 to $375,000 each.

“[This new laboratory] is so expensive, there is no way to start it without support [from other companies,]” said Diana Wilkins, co-director of the U center for human toxicology.

The new U Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory will become World Anti-Doping Agency-certified and will obtain the certification after the laboratory meets the standard of the WADA organization.

Being WADA-certified, the U will be able to test Olympic athletes.

The University of California at Los Angeles is the only other school in the nation that currently tests Olympic athletes.

“We look forward to having the new laboratory complement the world-class facility at UCLA,” said Terry Madden, USADA chief executive officer. “Given the plans for expanded testing, it is important to re-establish a second WADA-accredited lab in the United States,” Madden said.

The lab will test athletes for substances, including steroids, diuretics, stimulants, blood- doping agents, growth hormones and beta blockers.

All professional athletes will be subject to random drug tests.

The lab will employ 30 technicians including graduate, doctoral and undergraduate students.

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