FHSAA taking steps to battle use of performance-enhancing drugs



FLORIDA - The Florida High School Athletic Association announced Tuesday it is taking aggressive steps to keep performance-enhancing drugs away from high school athletes.

The FHSAA said it wants a thorough review. The executive director said he wants a subcommittee to look over everything and find out how the association can increase the crackdown.

The move comes after allegations out of Miami that 10 athletes were using enhancement drugs.

The FHSAA fears the cases might all be related.

The executive director, Dr. Roger Dearing, said he wanted the association's sports medicine advisory committee to comb through the current policies in place to try to come up with more stringent rules that would then be adopted by individual school districts.

A pilot program for drug testing came back with only one positive result out of 650 student athletes tested a few years ago.

The program was suspended because of the costs associated with it: $284,000 each year, the association said.

Dearing said he hopes the policies that come out of the review could include more stringent repercussions for teachers, coaches or parents who know about a student using drugs or supplying the drugs.

The association said it also want the students to face more than a suspension if they are caught using the drugs.

Dearing said he wants to find a way to educate adults and students about the dangers of using the drugs.

More than 280,000 students around the state take to fields, courts and pools each year.

The pressure they feel to perform could prompt them to make some bad decisions, officials fear.

Orangewood Christian School head football coach Bill Gierke said he has coached football in Central Florida for almost 40 years at both public and private schools.

"They read about it and I'm sure some of them say, 'If I use that, I might be better,'" Gierke said.

He says years before he got to his current post, he noticed red flags that turned out to be drug abuse.

"I had a young man that made outstanding gains that were really impossible for a high schooler to make," Gierke said.

Dearing says not all coaches are as vigilant as Gierke and said he believes some may be helping athletes get the drugs.

Dearing also wants to know if there could be bigger legal and financial problems if school districts are given more power to enforce new policies.