Jan 29, 2015
PED Scandal Touches High Schools

The clinic at the center of the latest performance-enhancing drug scandal in baseball allegedly also provided substances to high school athletes. The Miami Herald reports that it saw the names of two current high school athletes in a list of Biogenesis clients as well as five additional then-high school athletes who are now in college.

But the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) says it has not yet been provided any such evidence.

“We have received no proof or no evidence,” Dr. Roger Dearing, the FHSAA’s director told the Associated Press. “We don’t know if the NFL or the NBA or the baseball league has, but it’s obvious to us that through the news coverage that there is an issue with the Biogenesis lab in South Florida.”

Even if the FHSAA had such evidence, they are limited in what they can do to the athletes involved.

“We don’t have the authority to make you go take a drug test, but the school does,” Dearing told the Herald. “Courts have issued rules that if you have reasonable suspicion — and a policy that drugs are not allowed on your campus — they can require a student athlete to go take a drug test before that student athlete can participate in sports any further. But it’s up to the school district and policy, or the private school policy, to enforce it.”

Despite the lack of evidence shown behind the claims so far, no one is denying PEDs present a danger to high school athletics and its participants.

“It’s an issue that we have to address head-on,” Florida Sen. Bill Monford, a former school principal and superintendent said to the AP. “And quite frankly, in my opinion, this is not a finger-pointing exercise. It’s truly an acknowledgment that we’ve got a problem and we also have a responsibility to address this issue. And we have to address it with vigor because if we don’t, the lives of many of our student-athletes … can be so negatively impacted.”

Even Rich Hofman, who was Rodriguez’s high school coach at Westminster Christian Academy, said he was he was disappointed but not necessarily surprised about the allegations of high school athletes receiving PEDs.

“People will do anything today to get an edge, even on this level,” Hofman said to the AP. “There’s so much money in this game and people’s eyes are so big. … You can do all the talking you want, you can put in all the legislation you want, but there will always be people trying to get an edge. Somebody is out there and if there’s a way, they’re going to try to beat the system.”

In response, the FHSAA is launching a “”top-to-bottom review of existing policies and procedures regarding the use of performance-enhancing drugs.”

“We have to be sure we deter ambitious or misguided athletes or coaches, parents or any other adults who think it’s OK to cheat to win or to win at any cost,” Dearing told the Fort Myers News-Press. “It’s something we have to put on the front burner and be vigilant about.”

This is not the first time Florida high schools have dealt with the issue of PEDs. In 2007-08, the state provided $100,000 for drug testing of student-athletes. The pilot program tested about 600 athletes in five sports. Only one positive result for steroids was found and the program was not continued.

Acknowledging the cost of testing could be difficult for schools to absorb, one newspaper columnist says professional sports teams could be tapped as a source of funds.

Buddy Collings of the Orlando Sentinel writes,

“FHSAA executive director Roger Dearing expressed hope Tuesday that corporate sponsors will step up to help assure teenagers aren’t using improper substances to gain an athletic edge. His first calls should be to the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, Florida’s three NFL franchises and its two MLB teams. If pro leagues are serious about curtailing PEDs at the highest level, they should pony up to discourage usage in the feeder system.”

At least one high school coach appears to agree.

“That’s probably the only way they’re going to be able to fund, with any consistency, a test,” Trinity Prep football coach Mike Kruczek, told Collings. “There are plenty of people out there that might want to [sponsor programs], knowing that this is a major problem.”

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