Florida Pushing for Stronger PED Testing at Schools

August 7, 2013 / Athletic Administration
Miami Herald


Spurred by reports in the past week that a now-defunct anti-aging clinic supplied performance-enhancing drugs to high school athletes as well as pro ballplayers, the Florida High School Athletic Association announced Tuesday it will push to create a tougher policy against steroids to be enforced by individual school districts.

“We believe we must draw a line in the sand against performance-enhancing drugs,” FHSAA Executive Director Roger Dearing said on a conference call with the news media. “It’s the elephant in the room that all of us have known has existed for some time, but we may not have been as vigilant as we should have been.

“School districts simply cannot tolerate coaches who encourage or look the other way when they know student-athletes are using performance-enhancing drugs. Therefore these coaches should not be allowed by their school district policies to influence and coach these students in the future. It’s more about safeguarding fair play and saving students’ lives.”

The association’s 16-member medical advisory committee will be tasked with devising the policy.

The Miami Herald has seen a partial list of high school clients of Biogenesis, the clinic that supplied PEDs o professional ballplayers, including Alex Rodriguez. On the list, from October 2011, are two current high school seniors and five athletes who are now in college but who attended Miami-Dade or Broward schools.

Although the Legislature passed a steroid testing pilot program in 2007-2008 (it produced one positive test out of 600 random exams across five sports and 53 schools), the FHSAA itself doesn’t have the authority to test for performance-enhancing drugs. But Dearing said individual schools and districts can and should implement testing as a deterrent and believes there are ways financially to figure it out.

The FHSAA had 283,000 student-athletes participate in high school sports last year. At $150 per test, comprehensive steroid testing statewide would cost $42 million, Dearing said.

“There’s no way we can test every child, but we can certainly ask each school district if they can test those students who were under suspicion of using PEDs and also to develop stronger policies … and punish the adults who allow this,” Dearing said.

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