High schools should test athletes for steroid use

???Roids, juice, sauce, slop, product.??? Would you know what these words meant if you heard them in a conversation?

They all mean anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids are performance-enhancing drugs that use the hormone testosterone to build muscle and increase protein synthesis in cells. Basically, they make athletes bigger, stronger and faster. The side effects of these drugs are that they cause liver damage, high blood pressure, changes to the sex organs in men and women, and threatening changes in the structure of the left ventricle of the heart.

Many know that some professional athletes and body builders take anabolic steroids. But high school athletes have also given in to the craze for perfection. Imagine hearing your son using those words in a conversation with a few of his high school teammates.

What can we do to prevent this? One solution is mandatory testing for anabolic steroids in high school sports.

At 2005 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 2.6 percent of high school seniors reported using steroids at least once. The numbers are believed to be rising, to 3.5 percent, according to recent news reports.

A simple urinary test can detect anabolic steroids in the system. These tests should be mandatory for all high school athletes. The problem is that these tests are relatively expensive, costing approximately $50 per test. Many public school officials argue that their budget simply cannot afford to administer these tests to every athlete.

However, New Jersey state Sen. Richard Codey recently endorsed a testing plan that will cost approximately $50,000 for the first year. The objective is to test the top athletes of the school who qualify for postseason play. Even though this does not test all the student athletes, it is a good start.

Many may think that steroid use is not popular here in Kansas, but after I interviewed a starting varsity player on a high school football team, I was shocked to find that steroid use was a problem. When I asked a high school senior if he had ever tried steroids, he answered, ???I used them for recruiting. It was weird. It was sort of like an adrenaline rush on crack. I used them to increase my performance and have high stats for scholarships, not becoming better, just enhancing whatever talent I already had.???

He had used an anabolic steroid injection. It was the first and only time he had ever used any drug. I asked him if he regretted it, and he said he truly did. He also agreed that testing for steroids in high schools was a good idea, saying, ???It??™s not right to use performance enhancers to better yourself.???

Clearly, high school athletes are not only experimenting with anabolic steroids to better their performance for themselves, but to be more noticeable for college recruiting scouts in hopes of possibly attaining a scholarship.

Despite the expense, high schools can??™t afford not to test. Schools spend much money on things like technology, but what is more important than health?

If it takes a few of the top high school athletes to be kicked off the team for using steroids, so be it. Better not to play for one season than be out of commission for life.

Lena Tsiovkh is a freshman at the University of Kansas. She lives in Lawrence.


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