Testing at the top

By By Natalie Hale

By Natalie Hale

A U lab was recently accredited in conducting drug tests on professional, semi-professional and amateur athletes.

Joining an elite group of 34 other labs worldwide, the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Lab at the U is now an accredited source for testing of athletes for the Olympics, Paralympics and National Football League.

“This puts us in an elite club,” said Matthew Slawson, a research assistant professor in the department of pharmacology and toxicology. “We are one of two in the United States.”

The accreditation process, carried out by the World Anti-Doping agency and the International Standards Organization for the lab, began in 2005.

The rigorous procedure required the lab to have equipment, expertise and instrumentation, support of a national sporting agency and business viability for five years. It also required the lab to pass multiple inspections and successfully identify samples containing doping agents.

“This (accreditation) process is expensive and time consuming,” Crouch said. “There is a considerable amount of devotion and duty to the process.”

While there are many non-accredited labs across the country, Dennis Crouch, the lab’s director, feels accreditation is necessary and important. He said accreditation legitimizes the lab’s work because it is subject to peer review and acceptance.

The lab tests for a wide variety of performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids, opiates, stimulants and metabolism boosters.

Because of the growing attention of athletes using performance-enhancing drugs, Crouch said he thinks this accreditation is a timely subject.

“We read about athletes using these drugs two to three times a week,” Crouch said.

The accreditation will not only provide opportunities to test athletes for doping activity, but will contribute to the lab’s research, as well–which is something Crouch said he believes is vital to the U.