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Groups Advocate Steps To Stem Abuse of Steroids

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Officials overseeing high-school, college, amateur, and Olympic sporting events have completed their first joint effort aimed at eliminating steroid use among athletes.

In a new report, the National Federation of State High School Associations, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles call for more research on the health effects of steroids and for more education efforts aimed at turning K-12 students away from the drugs.

The report is the result of an unprecedented meeting in Los Angeles this summer of 62 experts in health, drug use, athletics, education, and law enforcement who represented the four groups.

National attention began to focus on steroid use last fall, after Ben Johnson, a Canadian sprinter, tested positive for the drugs at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. At the time, education groups had done little to address the issue of steroid use among youths. (See Education Week, Oct. 12, 1988.)

The report states that steroid use "has resulted from the fixation on winning, the financial rewards which may accompany winning, and the pressures which may be placed on the athletes to win."

More research is needed on the long-term effects of steroids, the report says, and more information8must be forthcoming to develop better drug-testing techniques.

The document also calls for surveys of athletes, coaches, alumni, students, and others on their willingness to "sacrifice athletic performance" in order to curtail steroid use.

It says that "all organizations concerned with youth activities, sports, and recreation are urged to condemn the sale, possession, and use of these products." And it recommends that "equal sanctions should apply within the various levels of amateur and professional sports."

The report also recommends that task-force members work closely with education groups to limit the use of steroids. Education programs aimed at K-12 students, college students, parents, coaches, and other adults should include, it says, "a two-sided message providing the pros and cons" of steroid use, as well as information about alternatives to steroids, such as weight-training and better nutrition.--ef

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