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Published: June, 2005; Vol 2, Num 1

Congress Considers Ban on Tools to Foil Drug Tests

On May 18, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee took testimony on the advisability of adopting federal legislation that would ban the interstate sale of products meant to subvert drug tests. Already, it is a federal crime to cheat on federally-mandated drug tests.

Currently, 14 states have some kind of law on the subject, but, without a nationwide ban, state laws can be readily violated.

A number of adulteration products are available through the internet, including, for instance, the “Whizzinator” and “Urine Luck.” The latter purports to detoxify a body’s chemistry so it can pass a drug test, and the former provides a prosthetic penis from which clean, reconstituted urine can be dispensed.

In April, Minnesota Vikings running back Onterrio Smith was detained at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport after police found an “Original Whizzinator,” some vials of dried urine and a bottle of pills labeled “cleansing formula” in his luggage. The paraphernalia was discovered after Smith’s bag set off security alarms due, apparently, to the presence of a toothpaste tube. Smith told police he was taking the materials to his cousin.

In its testimony supporting federal legislation, the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA), a 1,300-member organization “representing the full spectrum of drug and alcohol testing service agents,” stressed the danger for co-workers and the public when drug testing is subverted.

“The names and appearances of the devices might garner a laugh,” DATIA wrote in a media release, “but unfortunately the effect of such products is serious. Efforts to cheat drug tests take on a different perspective when one considers that more than 12 million employees are subject to mandatory drug testing under Department of Transportation regulations because they are in safety-sensitive positions.”

Many Laborers on federal construction projects work under these regulations. Truck drivers, bus drivers, pilots, mass transit operators, railroad engineers and mariners also are subject to mandatory drug and alcohol testing. According to a Gallup poll cited by the DATIA, 95 percent of the American public thinks it is a good idea to test these workers.

[Steve Clark]