The U.S. Navy is set to commence random testing of its special operations forces, including SEALs, for steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs starting November 2023. This move has been deemed groundbreaking as military leaders had previously been resistant to such measures. Rear Adm. Keith Davids, the commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, endorsed the new program emphasizing its necessity for health, safety, and military readiness. The Army Special Operations Command is also considering implementing similar measures.
- The Navy’s groundbreaking decision comes after a history of resistance towards random testing for performance-enhancing drugs among special operations forces.
- The decision was influenced by concerns regarding the health and military readiness of the forces and was catalyzed by the death of a Navy SEAL candidate, although no direct link to performance-enhancing drugs was established in that case.
- The Navy intends to test 15% of four randomly selected units each month, which could result in testing as many as 200 sailors monthly.
- Investigations from 2011, 2013, and 2018 flagged the use of performance-enhancing drugs as an issue among SEAL candidates, leading to disciplinary actions.
- The testing is anticipated to cost approximately $4.5 million annually for the next two years, and while prescription medication for legitimate medical conditions will still be permitted, any use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs is deemed unacceptable.