Florida HS association taking hard look at PEDs

The Florida High School Athletic Association will review its
policies on performance-enhancing drugs following an allegation
that its athletes were among the customers of the shuttered clinic
at the center of the baseball scandal.

The FHSAA said it has no proof to substantiate the claims of
former Biogenesis employee Porter Fischer, who has told The
Associated Press and other media outlets in recent days that he saw
the clinic’s operator give PEDs to high school players.

But, as the state association sees it, even the mere suggestion
that youngsters are involved with PEDs is reason enough to act.

”It’s an issue that we have to address head-on,” said Florida
Sen. Bill Monford, a former school principal and superintendent.
”And quite frankly, in my opinion, this is not a finger-pointing
exercise. It’s truly an acknowledgment that we’ve got a problem and
we also have a responsibility to address this issue. And we have to
address it with vigor because if we don’t, the lives of many of our
student-athletes … can be so negatively impacted.”

The announcement came one day after Major League Baseball
disciplined 13 players, including Alex Rodriguez of the New York
Yankees, for having ties to Biogenesis, a clinic accused of
distributing banned performance enhancers.

Fischer has said that the clinic’s operator, Anthony Bosch, sold
PEDs to a number of high school athletes, and that he came forward
with those allegations with hopes that law enforcement would take a
deeper look into what the clinic did before its doors closed.

The FHSAA said it read those claims, and the association’s
director called them ”a wake-up call.”

”We have received no proof or no evidence,” said Dr. Roger
Dearing, the FHSAA’s director. ”We don’t know if the NFL or the
NBA or the baseball league has, but it’s obvious to us that through
the news coverage that there is an issue with the Biogenesis lab in
South Florida.”

Rodriguez, who is appealing baseball’s ruling, was suspended for
211 games for what baseball said were his links to Biogenesis. His
high school coach, Rich Hofman, said he was disappointed but not
necessarily surprised when he heard allegations of high schoolers
getting PEDs from the clinic.

”People will do anything today to get an edge, even on this
level,” Hofman said. ”There’s so much money in this game and
people’s eyes are so big. … You can do all the talking you want,
you can put in all the legislation you want, but there will always
be people trying to get an edge. Somebody is out there and if
there’s a way, they’re going to try to beat the system.”

It’s unclear what will actually happen through this review, or
how school districts could fund additional testing of athletes.

In 2004, a state lawmaker proposed that Florida’s schools, as a
condition of their membership in the state athletic association,
test athletes randomly for steroids. A pilot program started about
three years later, with more than 500 tests turning up just one
positive result for steroids. But steroid testing alone is
cost-prohibitive for many school districts. More sophisticated
tests, such as ones to detect HGH, are even more expensive.

Still, Florida wants its athletes to at least be better educated
on the dangers.

”Quite frankly, it’s a problem that must be dealt with,”
Dearing said.