Drug testing sparks lawsuit - Students say they were 'humiliated' by research study

Polk County Itemizer

By Tom Henderson

DALLAS -- Beth Wade had to take a drug test before she could play soccer at Dallas High School.

She passed. Nonetheless, she said, having to provide a urine sample was embarrassing.

Wade and her fellow 2002 Dallas High graduate Amy Cordy are suing the Dallas School District and 14 other school districts as well as Oregon Health and Sciences University.

Cordy and Wade are seeking almost $9 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

They say they were used in an experiment that was embarrassing and humiliating.

Beyond that, Wade said, it was just plain wrong.

"I don't think the drug-testing program is right," Wade said. "It violates my rights as a student athlete."

Three years ago, the Dallas School District agreed to participate in an OHSU research project called Student Athlete Testing Using Random Notification -- or SATURN.

SATURN researchers randomly tested student athletes for drug use. Student athletes had to agree to the possibility of being tested before they could play sports.

That's the problem, said Robert Swider of Portland, an attorney for the Wade and Cordy. Students had to submit to drug testing if they wanted to play sports.

That amounts to coercion, he said.

"It's all about how they got consent."

It was not coercion, school Superintendent Dave Novotney said. Students had a choice. They could choose not to participate in sports.

"That's why it's called extracurricular," he said.