This paper will discuss the legal issues involved in the mandatory drug testing of athletes. The first part of the paper will examine the issue of state action with regard to federal constitutional protections. The second part of the paper will discuss the privacy issues arising out of the Fourteenth Amendment. The third part of the paper will look at the issue of search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. The last part will briefly discuss state constitutional law concerning privacy.
The controversy over the mandatory testing for drugs in sports concerns both types of athletes, professional and amateur. As will be seen, courts have treated professional athletes as employees who have agreed to forego certain rights, since they have signed employment contracts which often provide for drug testing. Amateur athletes, on the other hand, represent a special situation, since most are nominally under the control of schools and they have not promised to play in return for consideration. Consequently, mandatory testing of amateur athletes tends to constitute a greater infringement of certain personal rights than does mandatory testing of professional athletes.
There are three main areas of concerns which are affected by drug testing in general. First, does an individual have a privacy interest in the bodily fluids which must be withdrawn in order to conduct a test? Second, does testing violate an individual's Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches? Third, might such testing violate provisions of state constitutions, especially with regard to privacy?
In order for any federal constitutional protection to be triggered, there must be some action on the part of the government or a public authority. This is a major problem in athletics and is the reason so few cases involving the mandatory testing for drugs have been brought in federal courts. Rules requiring the drug testing of professional athlet...