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Back You are here: Home Sports Other 10% of High School Boys Using Steriods
Friday, 17 October 2014 15:11

10% of High School Boys Using Steriods

It has long been argued that steroid usage is very much part and particle of school sports in South Africa. Many schools have initiated programs to curb the epidemic but it seems apparent that steroid use is steadily on the rise.

 SteriodsIt was revealed recently at a South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport summit by Dr Glen Hagemann, who is the managing director of SharkSmart, a program that assists schools in KZN to address steroid misuse by learners, that at least 5% of boys at the 23 KZN high school admitted to using steroids.

It has been revealed that boys as young as 13 years old, some from elite boarding schools were using illegal substances. These boys run the risk of liver damage, infertility and shrunken testicles.

What is also noticeable is that steroid use by high school boys is becoming more sophisticated with more that 10% of the 12 000 boys surveyed admitting to having tried illegal steroids.

A senior government official told the conference that principals were hiding steroid use to keep the image of the school clean.

“Children are dealing in schools. Principals are covering it up to allow their kiddies to get somewhere,” he added.

Dr.Hagemann said that “there is a split between boys using steroids to get big and bulk up and those who use them for better sports performance,” adding that “steroids were easily bought on the internet.”

The scourge of steroids at schools was further advanced when a Gauteng teacher said that although she had seen pupils selling steroids the principle had done nothing about the situation after she had reported it.

The SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport tests boys and promises a ban from school sport for a year if a boy tests positive for steroids. But neither this nor the side effects always deter teenagers who want big bodies or an edge at sports.

Dieticians and sport doctors who spoke at the summit warned that teenagers' use of supplements such as muscle builders, creatine and vitamins was widespread, despite no evidence to prove that these products were safe for children. Creatine, for example, had not been tested on adolescents.

Dr Harris Steinman said vicarious parents would spend R3000 a month for children they wanted to become a Springbok.

More than half of the boys at the annual Craven Week rugby tournament were using supplements to improve their performance, said dietician Shelley Meltzer.

Sports dietician Amanda Claassen-Smithers warned that, though they were legal, supplements were "risky" as they remained largely unregulated.

"There was support for a hypothesis that teenagers who used creatine were later likely to use anabolic steroids."

She said there were difficulties, globally and locally, regulating the contents of supplements and ensuring that labels accurately reflected contents and that the supplement was safe for humans and "not just tested on rats".

Supplements contain nutrients in quantities larger than the body needs and could be toxic and cause liver damage or death.

Teenagers and other consumers also used a mixture of different supplements, without knowing how they interacted.

The president of the South African Sports Medicine Association, Jon Patricios, said teenagers believed coaches, personal trainers and the advertising industry and took supplements regardless of whether or not there was evidence they worked.