In light of the recent Biogenesis scandal that put a black eye on Major League Baseball, the Florida High School Athletic Association is conducting a major review of its policies against the use of performance-enhancing drugs for student-athletes.
In a release by the organization, which regulates interscholastic athletic programs for high school students at member public and private schools, FHSAA executive director Roger Dearing asked the Sports Medicine Advisory committee to perform a “top-to-bottom review” of existing policies to determine what can be done to eliminate PED use.
“The FHSAA’s overriding priority is the safety, well-being and constructive development of young student-athletes, whose bodies and character are still forming,” Dearing said. “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.”
Existing FHSAA policies and bylaws state that student-athletes can be suspended from competing if they have used PEDs, but Dearing said it isn’t enough. Especially after a report by the Miami Herald alleged that two current high school baseball players were clients of the Biogenesis Anti-Aging Clinic in South Florida where many professional baseball players, including New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun and Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, were found to have allegedly obtained banned substances.
In total, MLB officials suspended 13 players for their involvement.
Dearing said the issue starts and ends with coaches.
“Here is the bottom line for me: As executive director of FHSAA, I believe we must draw a line in the sand against performance-enhancing drugs,” Dearing said. “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 more than safeguarding fair play. It’s about saving lives.”
According to the release, Dearing has asked the 15-member committee, which includes 11 physicians, as well as athletic trainers, former coaches and educators, to review a full range of issues related to PED use, including but now limited to:
–Whether existing policies and procedures provide sufficient authority for schools to test and discipline student-athletes who may be using banned substances.
–The legal, policy and fiscal implications of heightened policies against performance-enhancing drugs; and
–Whether the FHSAA prohibition of PEDs would be more effective if set out as a stand-alone policy rather than existing as a part of a broader policy on sportsmanship.
Dearing was joined in his pledge for a review by State Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, who is a former school principal and superintendant and now serves as chief executive officer of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.
“Performance-enhancing drugs pose a very real, very dangerous threat to high school student-athletes, both physically and psychologically,” Montford said in the release. “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.”
Jennifer Roth Manyard, an assistant professor of family and sports medicine with the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville and member of the FHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, said the organization is making positive strides to eliminate PEDs.
“Teenagers are still developing … and PEDs have no place in their lives,” Maynard said in the release. “Whatever the FHSAA can do to stop PEDs from being used by high school student-athletes is a step in the right direction.”