In a move towards ensuring the health and safety of its elite forces, the U.S. Navy has announced it will commence regular testing of Navy SEALs and their recruits for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
The Navy’s recent announcement is part of a wider set of safety measures instituted in the aftermath of the tragic death of Navy SEAL recruit Kyle Mullen in 2022.
“My intent is to ensure every NSW teammate operates at their innate best while preserving the distinguished standards of excellence that define NSW,” Rear Adm. Keith Davids, the commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, said.
Starting in November, Navy SEAL recruits will undergo random urinalysis tests, similar to the existing program that examines sailors for drugs like marijuana, opiates and methamphetamines.
Navy documents reveal that a strict testing protocol has been established. “[Fifteen percent] of a unit’s population must be tested per month,” and commanders can conduct a “unit sweep,” testing every sailor. Sailors selected for the tests will provide two samples, one for PEDs to an external lab and another for traditional drugs to a Navy lab.
The tests have also been refined for precision, identifying banned substances directly, such as anabolic steroids and growth hormones. According to Military.com, the Navy has explained that if SEAL recruits test positive without a legal defense, they will be “processed for administrative separation for either an orders violation or for the commission of a serious offense.”
“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,” Davids stated.
The Navy’s new measures follow a series of investigations into the SEAL community, which has been under scrutiny since Mullen’s death. The recruit had completed the notoriously tough “Hell Week” of the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training (BUD/s).
According to Military.com, the recruit later died from complications associated with pneumonia, but a subsequent investigation found performance-enhancing drugs in his car.
The results of investigations into Mullen’s death spurred immediate drug testing protocols, and an indirect testosterone ratio test was conducted initially.
Out of 2,558 tests, 74 candidates exhibited elevated testosterone levels, with three testing positive for anabolic substances. However, a recent report offered a more optimistic view, showing that only three out of 434 candidates tested positive for PEDs since March, according to command leaders.
In an attempt to mitigate further allegations, such as an August 2022 New York Times article suggesting drugs were “deeply embedded” in SEAL training over the past decade, the Navy has reaffirmed its commitment to eliminating the usage of PEDs. Military leadership maintains there is only “anecdotal evidence of PED use” among its ranks while emphasizing that “any number above zero is unacceptable.”
In some cases, the Navy’s drug-testing policy will accommodate prescriptions, such as testosterone replacement therapy. The Navy is encouraging sailors to seek proper medical treatment for any symptoms or conditions.
“The unauthorized and unsupervised use of PEDs is what we are trying to identify and prevent,” Davids said. “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.”
This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.