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Feature Article - June 2007

SCHOOLS AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS

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Top Performance—or Just a Fašade?

After completing several studies with some of his colleagues, John Miller, an associate professor of Sport Management at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, said he has found that there is a behind-the-scenes trend that is endangering kids.

"At the high school level, there is an unseen trend toward giving interscholastic athletes performance-enhancing drugs," Miller said, adding that New Jersey has just passed legislation requiring random drug testing for steroids at the high school level. Texas also is likely to introduce legislation.

"To me, that tells me something," Miller said. "Congress and State Senates aren't going to do something until they really have the information. They're not always that proactive."

Miller and his colleagues have done studies that show that the majority of athletic directors were in favor of random drug testing for steroids, but simply cannot afford it.

"They rely heavily on their coaches to educate their students on performance-enhancing drugs, but they don't think they have enough knowledge of what those drugs do or don't do," he explained.

In fact, research conducted by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association in 2003 showed that approximately 1.1 million kids between 12 and 17 had taken performance-enhancing supplements or drugs. The same study showed that 76 percent could not identify negative side effects resulting from use of steroids, ephedra and similar substances.

"The message has been that in order to get that scholarship, you need to be bigger, faster and stronger than the people you compete against," Miller explained. "Can you do that without any chemical help? Presently there is no steroid testing that the schools do, and that's like saying, the speed limit here is 35 miles an hour, but we'll never have police checking. Why wouldn't you drive 55 or 60?"