CIS, CFL team up to crack down on drugs

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:41 PM ET

OTTAWA -- The CIS is stepping up its war on drugs in football.

Caught off-guard when the University of Waterloo suspended its program this season after nine positive tests and taken aback when four more players were caught in 60 tests done in May and June, the CIS announced new measures Tuesday in conjuction with the CFL and Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports.

CIS CEO Marg MacGregor and CCES head Doug MacQuarrie told a press conference at the RA Centre that with financial assistance from the CFL, to help cover the $800 cost per test, the CCES and CIS will triple the number of players tested to include more than 15% of rosters.

Two players -- Christopher Deneau of Amherstburg, a second-year linebacker at Windsor; and Taylor Shadgett of Barrie, a third-year linebacker at Acadia -- have already received two-year bans as a result of June tests.

"(The results) of the football testing program are significant and alarming," said MacQuarrie. "Canadians have told us they have no tolerance for doping."

Last year, only 89 players were tested. The CFL, which adopted a drug policy in its collective bargaining agreeement in the spring, will provide a list of the 80 top prospects, giving CIS a target group.

"We had an opportunity to digest the situation and to join forces with our partners to confront the problem of doping in a systematic fashion," said MacGregor.

"The CIS has significant work to do with its partners to address the problem in a comprehensive manner. We understand the CIS doping control program needs to be strengthened."

MacGregor admitted that in the past, the chances of players among the 27 CIS football programs either being caught -- or even tested -- were slim. Only 5% of players were subject to testing.

But now, not only do they face a more significant chance of being tested, they'll also be subject to random tests in the off-season.

"The effective strategies for drugs of abuse in football would be off-season and out of competition," said MacQuarrie.

The CFL is also taking on a bigger role in educating CIS players.

"We felt that the timing was right for us to get involved," said director of operations Kevin MacDonald.

The measures are already being welcomed at the league level.

Queen's coach Pat Sheahan said the CFL's decision to implement a drug policy and get involved with CIS is an important step in sending the right message to university players.

"The CFL has taken a good deal of criticism from sports purists over the years because they haven't had any (policy)," Sheahan said from his Kingston office.

"When you don't have any policy, it can be construed as a statement that it's not important. The conundrum it created for the CIS was: When the highest-performing league in the country has no policy and here we are preaching a 'drug-free' sport, it created a disconnect."


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