Random drug testing starts for UO student athletes

Random drug testing starts for UO student athletes »Play Video
Police clocked star University of Oregon football player Cliff Harris driving 118 mph without a valid driver's license early Sunday morning on Interstate 5 south of Albany in June 2011. Harris, 20, was cited by Oregon State Police for driving suspended and going 118 mph in a 65 mph speed zone. An off-duty trooper spotted the vehicle around 4:32 a.m. Sunday and obtained a radar reading of 118 mph. Dashcam video from the Harris speeding stop reveals that troopers questioned Harris and the car's occupants about marijuana - and that quarterback Darron Thomas was in the car, the third time Thomas had been a passenger in a car with a Duck player when they got in trouble with police.

EUGENE, Ore. - They're the face of the University of Oregon.

And as that face, student athletes are expected to be on their best behavior.

"Really the purpose is to make sure people are not making bad choices," said spokesman Phil Weiler.

Now a temporary new random drug testing policy for all student athletes, will ensure that.

"There's no temptation now to use performance enhancing drugs because people know that they'll be caught if they do."

Weiler said there's always been a drug testing policy in place, this takes it to another level.

"So basically a number is generated randomly and if you are associated with that number, then you are informed that you need to provide a sample."

With fall sports already underway, including football, Weiler said they wanted to have this temporary testing policy in place before a public hearing on the issue scheduled for October.

"We do want to make sure the campus community has a chance to comment on this change in rules," he said. "But in the meantime, we felt it was important to be able to protect student athletes and so we've put sort of this temporary rule in place."

The University is no stranger to seeing some of its most prominent athletes admit to using drugs.

Last June, former Oregon football player Cliff Harris was questioned by an Oregon State Police trooper after he smelled marijuana in the car.
   
"University of Oregon's athletic department has been hoping to have authority to have random drug testing for quite a period of time that predates any of the issues that were in the media in the recent past around drug use," said Weiler.

Chip Kelly told the Oregonian Thuesday that he supports this temporary policy.
    
A public hearing is scheduled for October, at which time, the university will decide whether to make the random testing permanent.