National Football League drug testing raises racial concerns


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Players in the National Football League are subject to drug testing during both the preseason and the regular season.

Ainsley Lang and Isabella Castelo

The National Football League (NFL) subjects players to random drug testing during the preseason and regular season. The NFL can test a player six times unless more are necessary, according to Boston News. But, some question whether or not these “random” drug tests are actually random, or influenced by race.

Every year on April 20, the NFL officially begins drug testing for the new season following a strict A and B process. This means that if a banned substance is found in test A, then the B sample is used to double check according to NFL Players Association.

This procedure allows players to bring their own toxicologists for the B test, according to Boston News. If a player fails, the NFL retests them under uniform rules and procedures. The player also has a right to appeal a suspension for drug-related problems.

Odell Beckham Jr., a wide receiver for the New York Giants, recently took to Twitter to voice his frustrations towards the NFL after a photo leaked of him with what appeared to be illegal substances, according to USA Today.

“Walkin’ in today to my 997,546 ‘RANDOM’ PED drug test today. It’s actually funny how I get ‘randomly’ tested every other week…” Beckham tweeted in September.

The photo gave the NFL probable cause to drug test Beckham, but he implied that the testing was because of his race.

Freshman Brielle Karolak of Brielle said that the NFL had justification in testing Beckham.

“The photo showed what could’ve been inappropriate behavior regardless his skin color,” Karolak said.

Sophomore Riley Forrester of Spring Lake Heights accusations of racism are a frequent occurrence in professional sports .

Professional athletes in general are always under so much pressure and constant attention that many of them are subject to these kinds of accusations, whether true or untrue,” Forrester said.

Random drug testing can appear racially biased, but white players are complaining, too. In 2016, the NFL asked Pittsburgh Steelers place kicker Chris Boswell to test while he was on vacation in Hawaii, according to ESPN. A similar incident happened to Steelers punter Jordan Berry. While black NFL players seem to get tested more than white players, if a white player gave reason to be drug tested, the NFL showed they would act upon it.