BY ANDREW O'BRIEN | SPORTS EDITOR
Earlier this week, 13 Major League Baseball players were given suspensions for using performance-enhancing drugs. And as PEDs become more prevalent among professional and collegiate athletes, the Florida High School Athletic Association wants to take precautions to ensure high school student-athletes are competing on a proverbial level playing field.
Biogenesis, the anti-aging clinic in South Florida that allegedly sold the PEDs to the MLB players, has now been connected to the sale of controlled substances to high school students, according to a report by The Miami Herald.
That report prompted the FHSAA on Tuesday to announce that it will have its Sports Medicine Advisory Committee conduct a “top-to-bottom” review of existing standards to determine how they can be strengthened to stop the trend of PED use among professional and college athletes from spreading throughout prep sports.
Under current policy and bylaw, the use of PEDs — prescribed or not — is not allowed. If caught, athletes must sit out of games until they are medically tested as being clean.
“This win-at-any-cost mentality is not what high school sports are about,” said Dr. Roger Dearing, executive director of FHSAA, Tuesday.
The 16-member committee will look into its own policy and then come up with a standalone policy for school districts to adopt.
But PED use hasn’t been — up to this point — widespread in high school sports. At least not according to the FHSAA. Ten years ago, the state tested 650 student-athletes for performance-enhancing drugs. One tested positive.
The bottom line is this: PEDs haven’t been an epidemic in high school sports. At least not up to this point. And the state doesn’t have the funding to test every single high school student-athlete: Last school year, there were about 283,000 student-athletes playing sports across Florida’s high schools.
But still, cheating is not OK. And beyond winning, there are major long-term health risks with taking PEDs, too. The main focus should be about education with the athletes, coaches and parents.
As Dr. Jennifer Roth Maynard, assistant professor of family and sports medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville and member of the FHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee put it: “Most young athletes have no idea of the harm that PEDs can cause.”
Those harms include cardiovascular disease, hepatitis, liver damage and cancer.
“We believe that we must draw a line in the sand against PEDs,” Dearing said. “School districts simply cannot tolerate coaches who encourage or look the other way when they know student-athletes are using PEDs.”
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