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Drug Abuse Not Just a Sports Problem

July 19, 1986

I take exception to almost everything Scott Ostler said in his July 8 column, "If Athletes Want to Abuse Drugs, It's Their Problem." The only thing I agree with is that you cannot control athletes' private lives during the off-season.

During the season, however, these are special people, paid very special salaries to perform at top efficiency. These special people are role models for the young. The youngsters are not going to wait for the test of time to see if a Walter Payton is rewarded by success for his non-involvement in drugs; they will just know that some of the athletes use drugs at this highest level of performance and get away with it. The kids will rationalize, "Why shouldn't I use drugs?"

These special people are paid very well to be in top physical condition, and this should preclude drug use during the season. Mandatory drug testing is the only way to assure adherence to the rules.

Perhaps the only way the public can effectively state its position on drugs in professional sports is to boycott the sponsors of the sports. About a 10% reduction in sales of any product would put enough heat on the pros to boil drugs right out of the picture.

BARRY L. NEILSEN

Ojai

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