Russ Walker, a security police officer at a high-security government nuclear weapons facility, was fired after testing positive for anabolic steroids. Walker attributes the positive steroid test to his use of the over-the-counter supplement identified as “DecaVol” manufactured by Advanced Muscle Science (AMS).
Russ Walker was a model employee at Wackenhut Services Inc. Oak Ridge (WSI-OR). WSI Oak Ridge is the private security contractor for the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee where nuclear warheads are manufactured for the U.S. military. Walker was asked to undergo steroid testing based on unspecified probable cause that he was in violation of company and Department of Energy policy.
Walker’s employment was terminated after he tested positive for anabolic steroids. Walker is one of several WSI-OR security police officers who have blamed positive steroid test results on the use of over-the-counter supplements (”Fired guard disputes test: Former Y-12 worker says he took legal supplements, not steroids,” July 26).
“I’ve served my country my whole life. That’s all I’ve ever done. I take supplements because I take my job seriously. I want to perform at the highest level if something does happen over there” at Y-12, which houses the nation’s stockpile of weapons-grade uranium and other bomb-making parts. “It’s not just about being muscular, about body. I carry an assault machine gun, and I might have to run a mile. Can I protect nuclear weapons if I’m fat and out of shape and have to run 100 yards?”
Russ Walker was only six months away from retirement. His dismissal by Wackenhut has resulted in considerable financial hardship. Walker exhausted his retirement accounts to meet family obligations; and he was denied unemployment compensation since he was fired for using illegal intoxicants.
Walker owner two Extreme Nutrition supplement stores in sales at his Extreme Nutrition supplement stores have suffered due to the steroid stigma associated with supplements. He states that a large number of his customers were security guards from the Oak Ridge Y-12 facility.
Wackenhut spokeswoman Courtney Henry acknowledges that the company was aware that the use of dietary supplements could result in a positive steroid result. However, the company follow a “strict liability” policy that holds employees responsible for any prohibited substances found in their body. The “strict liability” policy is the same policy advocated by the World Anti-Doping Agency for anti-doping controls in sports.
“It is not the company’s responsibility to determine what was taken, when, how or why,” she said.
Henry said Wackenhut officials do not believe use of illegal drugs, including anabolic steroids, is a big problem with security officers in Oak Ridge.
“We are aware, however, of the use of performance-enhancing stimulants, which can be purchased and taken legally, by a number of security police officers,” she said. “Independent studies have shown that between 10 percent and 25 percent of legally obtained performance-enhancing supplements contain enough anabolic steroids to result in a positive drug test for steroids, or metabolize in an individual system in a manner that causes a positive drug test. Although we cannot prohibit the use of these legal supplements, we have strongly discouraged their use.”
Randy Lawson, president of the International Guards Union of America Local 3, has challenged the firing of Russ Walker and other WSI-OR security guards. Lawson has argued that the steroid positives resulted from over-the-counter supplements and that WSI-OR did not provide a list of prohibited over-the-counter supplements.