MANATEE COUNTY – Former Manatee County School District Superintendent Dr. Roger Dearing, now executive director of the FHSAA, hopes his organization can help protect teens from the ongoing threat of performance-enhancing drugs. Dearing has asked the organization’s medical policy experts to conduct a top-to-bottom review of existing policies to determine what additional measures can be enacted to prevent the use of improper substances by high school student-athletes.
Dearing noted that under existing FHSAA sportsmanship bylaws and policies student-athletes can be suspended from competing if they have used PEDs, but he also acknowledged that current measures may be insufficient in light of recent allegations that South Florida high school athletes received PEDs as part of the Biogenesis scandal, which recently led to the suspension of 13 Major League baseball players.
“The FHSAA’s overriding priority is the safety, well-being and constructive development of young student-athletes, whose bodies and character are still forming. Performance-enhancing drugs undermine every aspect of this goal, and so it is imperative that our student-athletes adhere to a zero tolerance policy toward these inherently unfair and dangerous substances,” said Dearing. “Here is the bottom line for me: As executive director of FHSAA, I believe we must draw a line in the sand against performing-enhancing drugs. School districts simply cannot tolerate coaches who encourage or look the other way when athletes use PEDs. Therefore, these coaches cannot be allowed to keep their jobs or have anything to do with young athletes. This is about more than safeguarding fair play – it’s about saving lives.”
Dearing was joined in his call for a review by state Senator Bill Montford of Tallahassee, a former school principal and superintendent who now serves as chief executive officer of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents; and Dr. Jennifer Roth Maynard, an assistant professor of family and sports medicine with the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville and a member of the FHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.
“Performance-enhancing drugs pose a very real, very dangerous threat to high school student-athletes, both physically and psychologically,” said Senator Montford. “I commend the FHSAA for being proactive in addressing the challenge presented by coaches, parents and young athletes who want to get ahead by any means possible, whatever the personal cost.”
The 15-member Sports Medicine Advisory Committee includes a cross-section of experts from across Florida, including 11 physicians as well as athletic trainers, former coaches and educators. The committee’s work has led to recent FHSAA policies to better protect young student athletes in the areas of concussions and heat/hydration.
“The Advisory Committee should consider all aspects of performance-enhancing drugs,” Dearing said, asking for a “thorough top-to-bottom review of existing policies and procedures regarding the use of performance-enhancing drugs by those who break the rules in order to tilt the playing field to their own advantage.”
The Miami-based clinic drew interest from the FDA recently, after an ESPN Outside the Lines episode reported that documents obtained from the clinic listed 10 high school athletes who, sources told the show, had received prescription drugs from the clinic for the unapproved purpose of enhancing their athletic performance.
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