Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 4, 2005


too eager

for steroid

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By Kevin Taylor

Since the news of steroid use among professional athletes has dominated headlines in the past few months, the trickle-down effect from the headlines has lawmakers in states like Florida, Texas, Michigan and Minnesota considering a bill that would call for statewide steroid testing for high school athletes.

But lawmakers may be jumping the gun, said Dan Washburn, executive director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

Washburn questions whether schools could afford to have testing done.

"We have 4 million student-athletes in the United States and 400,000 in Alabama. It would cost up to $1 million to do one random sampling," Washburn said. "(Testing) has been discussed but not seriously because of the expense."

And steroid use has more than doubled among high school students from 1991 to 2003, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 6 percent of 15,000 students questioned said they tried steroids at least once, according to an Associated Press report.

Because of the high cost involved to test for steroids, Washburn said the best combatant against steroid use is education.

"We put out statements and

denounce the use of steroids every chance we get," Washburn said.

And steroid use doesn't seem to be a topic around local high schools like Georgiana.

"My guys don't mention that stuff that much," Panthers head football coach Keith York said. "We pride ourselves with what we do in the weightroom. And we tell them that supplements are not what you need to get into."

Although steroids may not seem to be a problem in high schools in the state, the use of the muscle and athletic enhancer Creatine has kept coaches on watch.

"I don't think steroid use is rampant among high school kids," Fort Dale football coach James Sampley said. "Š But they do use products like Creatine."

Creatine is not an illegal drug and can be bought at any health store. But Sampley said he does encourage his guys not to use the enhancer during the season.

"We have had some bad luck with a kid from the cramping standpoint," he said. "So we tell our kids if you use it, when it gets time for the season they need to be off it."

The National Federation of High School Associations indicated that 4 percent of the nation's high school's test students for steroids, according to an Associated Press report.

Washburn said that steroid testing may be implemented eventually, but he could not predict when.

Sampley said he could not see a school system implementing testing for steroids since there have been so many reports of school systems considering shutting down athletic programs because of the lack of funds.

"It would be a good thing as long as a school system could afford to do it," he said.