Two Oregon students have reached a settlement over a controversial study of drug testing in Oregon high school athletes, ending years of court challenges to the research.

The settlement, approved Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge Garr King, calls for the Oregon Health and Science University, several school districts and some employees of both to pay the plaintiffs' lawyers $90,000.

Astoria and Warrenton-Hammond school districts were originally defendants in the lawsuit, but, along with 11 other districts, were dismissed from the suit in April 2003 after King determined that the districts involved in the study were not waging a conspiracy against their students.

Under the settlement, the defendants do not admit any liability. And the agreement gives no money to the class-action lawsuit's two plaintiffs, Beth Wade and Ivan Donayri.

Wade's New Jersey lawyer, Alan Milstein, said he would give her $5,000 from the lawyers' portion.

Milstein and two Portland lawyers filed the federal suit almost two years ago - naming only Wade, a former Dallas High School student, as plaintiff.

The suit claimed that Wade's rights were violated by her participation in the study, and asked the court to award at least $10 million in real and punitive damages plus lawyers' fees. It also sought to bar researchers from using any data gathered in the study.

King threw out nine of that suit's 10 claims a year ago. Wednesday's agreement settles the final claim.

"It's all over," said Robert Shlachter, the lawyer representing OHSU and five doctors involved in the suit.

Wade is among scores of high-school athletes from 14 Oregon school districts who took part in the SATURN study, led by Dr. Linn Goldberg, head of OHSU's sports medicine division.

The three-year study, funded by a $3.6 million federal grant, examined whether mandatory testing discourages high schoolers from using recreational drugs, alcohol or steroids.

Preliminary results from the first year of the study found that student-athletes subject to random drug testing at a high school in The Dalles were almost four times less likely to use drugs than their counterparts at a similar school in Warrenton. Students in Warrenton were part of a control group and were not tested. Warrenton students simply filled out a survey. Astoria students filled out a survey and were subject to random drug testing.

Several students and parents complained that they were coerced or forced into the medical experiment.

An investigation by a federal research oversight board halted OHSU's study in 2002. University officials say the study is now dead.

Scholars have widely criticized the study as unethical. But school researchers maintain it was well designed but misunderstood. They may try to publish their findings.

State courts previously rejected a suit by Ginelle Weber, a student in the Oakridge School District who claimed that the drug testing was barred by the Oregon Constitution.


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