Members of the Navy’s elite special forces units will be tested for steroids beginning next month.
Rear Adm. Keith Davids, commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, announced the new program Friday, according to the Associated Press, which in its reporting called steroid use a “somewhat limited but persistent problem.”
Army Special Operations Command said it will also be imposing testing but did not indicate when that would start. The Air Force and the Marine Corps special operations units have not indicated that they plan to follow suit.
Four Navy units will be randomly selected per month, with about 15 percent of each unit to be tested. That does out to about 200 people per month. Violators will face disciplinary action. The Navy policy impacts about 9,000 active-duty military personnel and those reservists who are on active-duty orders.
Testing is expected to cost about $4.5 million per year over the next two years.
The new rule follows a program in which about 2,500 screenings were conducted between February 2022 and March 2023. As a result, 74 SEAL or Special Warfare Combat Crewmen were found with elevated testosterone levels.
“This incremental, random, force-wide testing initiative is far more than a regulatory step — it’s a steadfast commitment to the health, safety and operational readiness of every member of the NSW community,” Rear Adm. Keith Davids, commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, said in announcing the program according to the Navy Times.
“My intent is to ensure every NSW teammate operates at their innate best, while preserving the distinguished standards of excellence that define NSW,” Davids said.
Davids said there will be exceptions.
“The unauthorized and unsupervised use of PEDs is what we are trying to identify and prevent. Nevertheless, we realize that some of our teammates may have legitimate medical conditions that need to be treated with prescription supplementation. If that is the case, we encourage our teammates, who haven’t already, to speak with their medical providers to get diagnosed and properly treated,” he said.
Last year, SEAL candidate and Seaman Kyle Mullen, 24, went into cardiac arrest after a grueling week of training. Testosterone, human growth hormone and several other drugs were found in a car he shared with other SEAL candidates, according to The New York Times. Although the incident raised concerns about steroid use, drug use was not connected with his death.
Steroid use has been cited in the past among SEAL teams.
“If they tested the teams, we wouldn’t have SEAL teams,” former SEAL Jeff Nichols said last year. “If they were doing this in the teams, there wouldn’t be enough SEALs to deploy,” he said.
“You have to have some compassion and understanding for what these guys are enduring. I needed to heal because I needed to do my job. That’s when I started injecting,” he said.
Nichols said although he used steroids while in the service, he has come to find them “dangerous and unnecessary.”
Family members of SEAL candidate Brandon Caserta said he told them in 2017 that steroid use was prevalent, and that as a non-user, he was considered a pariah among other candidates. He eventually dropped out due to injuries and committed suicide in 2018.
“Brandon had a chance to try again, but he didn’t want to because of all the drugs,” his father, Patrick Caserta, said. “I hope this levels the playing field. Guys might have to work harder, but ideally, they get better SEALs out of it.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.