September 25, 2020

Steroid Investigations and Trash Collection

IRS Special Agent Jeff Novitsky testified against cyclist Tammy Thomas at her perjury trial yesterday. Novitsky is a popular (and controversial) figure in the entire steroids in sports investigation. Thus, many observers were interested in his testimony. Reviewing the published accounts of Novitsky’s testimony, I found it particularly interesting how much incriminating evidence federal investigators found in BALCO’s trash.

Novitzky began searching through the trash behind the BALCO offices, learning when the company set garbage out and when it was collected. Each Monday night for a year, he hauled BALCO’s rubbish to a well-lit area nearby and sifted through it, he testified.

He found copies of e-mail messages and copious quantities of empty needle wrappers, he said. The latter led him to a medical-waste company where he found evidence of syringes, vials and performance-enhancing drugs that apparently originated at BALCO.

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Steroid Testing Student Athletes is Unconstitutional in State of Washington

The Supreme Court in the State of Washington ruled that random drug testing of student athletes (which presumably would include steroid testing) was unconstitutional.

Other states allow it. The U.S. Constitution allows it. But the Washington Supreme Court said today that random drug testing of student athletes is not allowed under the state constitution.

If random testing student athletes for steroids and other drugs is consistent with the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, then why does the Washington state constitution prohibit random testing? Quite simply, residents of Washington have more privacy protections than those granted by the U.S. Constitution (“They Ain’t Gonna Pee-Pee in No Cup,” March 14).

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld random testing not only of athletes but of students participating in other extracurricular activities as well, and its logic (such as it is) suggests that random testing of all students also would be consistent with the Fourth Amendment. But Washington’s constitution has a privacy guarantee that goes beyond the prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures, saying, “No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law.” The state Supreme Court has read this clause as providing more protection than the Fourth Amendment…

According to Reason, the State of Washington is not the only state whose residents are granted greater privacy protections than the U.S. Constitution (which I suspect would likely also prohibit random steroid testing in student athletes).

Washington is not the only state where residents enjoy more privacy protection than the Fourth Amendment (as currently read) guarantees. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, for example, has taken a dimmer view of student drug testing than the U.S. Supreme Court. The Alaska Supreme Court has interpreted the state constitution’s privacy clause, which says the “right of the people to privacy is recognized and shall not be infringed,” as prohibiting prosecution of people for possessing small amounts of marijuana at home. 

The steroid testing trend in public high schools sweeping the nation appears to be permanently stalled in at least a few states.