VHSL Won't Make Decision on Owah's Medals

By: Damon Dillman Email
By: Damon Dillman Email

He was cited for possession of marijuana a week ago, and is due in court on the charge later this month. This past weekend, Harrisonburg High School senior Alex Owah won three gold medals at the Virginia AA State Track Meet.

On Tuesday, an official with the Virginia High School League said what that drug charge would mean for Owah's gold medals was a decision for the school, and Harrisonburg's superintendent declined to comment on the subject.

Owah won gold medals at Saturday's meet in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, and long jump events.

That came four days after he was pulled over by Harrisonburg police for speeding, then cited for marijuana possession after the drug was found in his car.

Harrisonburg Schools Superintendent Dr. Don Ford issued a statement Tuesday afternoon, discussing the school's drug policy for student/athletes.

Citing confidentiality laws, Ford only referenced Owah's situation once in the statement.

"With regard to the current situation being reported in the local media, neither the track coach, the athletic director, school administrators, nor any of our central office administrators knew of any allegations of misconduct in this matter, until our athletic director was approached (Monday) afternoon by a member of the media," the statement read.

The statement also included a selection from the school's Student Athlete Handbook that read, "If a student athlete is charged with a criminal offense, he/she may be suspended from the team until the outcome of the judicial process."

"Our school board has made it perfectly clear that drug use is not going to be tolerated," Ford told WHSV Tuesday. "And if anybody feels like that message is not clear, let me be sure that it's clear today."

VHSL Executive Director Ken Tilley said Tuesday that organization would not be part of any decision on whether Owah would keep his medals.

"This is a school matter," Tilley said by phone. "And it's up to the school to resolve."

Ford declined to address the subject of Owah's medals, citing confidentiality laws.

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