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The truth about steroids

Santa Clarita Valley athletes have taken performance-enhancing drugs

Posted: August 6, 2009 10:15 p.m.
Updated: August 7, 2009 4:55 a.m.

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A coach in the William S. Hart Union High School District said he has had players who have taken steroids.

This coach, who requested anonymity, said he has confronted multiple players who he suspected of taking steroids and has even contacted their parents to inform them of his suspicions.

“If any coach in this district believes (kids) aren’t doing anything, drinking or smoking the occasional marijuana or taking (human growth hormones) or steroids, we’re living in a world where we’re in trouble,” the coach said. “These kids do stuff like this and you have to be aware of it.”

Steroids have been a huge issue in sports over the latter part of this decade, specifically in professional baseball.

Yet the illegal substances have garnered most of the attention from athletes at the professional level being caught using them.

But as this one local coach noted, they are around at the high school level and one man at College of the Canyons said he has confronted players about his suspicions.

“We’ve had three or four football guys over the years where there’s not even hemming or hawing. (They’ll say) yeah, you got me,” said Robert dos Remedios, COC head strength and conditioning coach.

In those cases, dos Remedios said, there was no punishment because there is no written policy when it comes to steroids at COC.

Plus, kids are not tested at the community college, or for that matter, the high school level for performance-enhancing drugs.

Therefore it's one person’s word over another person’s word.      

The California Community College Athletic Association does not have a written rule against steroids, though Jason Boggs, assistant director of Sports information and communication for the organization, said it is understood that steroid use is not permitted.

Boggs said because of the costs, testing is not done at the community college level, though it has been discussed.

At the high school level, the CIF-Southern Section has what is called the “Coaches Education Program.”

According to Thom Simmons, the director of communications for the CIF-SS, every coach in the section has to go through a training program that gives background on steroids and ethical issues.

“Do I do a quality job on that? Probably no,” said Hart high baseball head coach Jim Ozella on steroid education. “We just try and tell you do it naturally. Get to the weightroom, work on sprints, work on the baseball side. From an education standpoint, I hand out information. There’s been such a high level of education from media about the dangers of it.”

Most of the coaches asked, said they don’t do a lot of steroid education.

“Not steroids,” said Saugus High head football coach Jason Bornn, who added that football players in the Santa Clarita Valley aren’t large in comparison to other Southern California locations. “We talk about alcohol, marijuana.”

There are some organizations trying to put out even more information on steroids, though.

One such organization is the Texas-based Taylor Hooton Foundation.

The Taylor Hooton Foundation has gained notoriety over the past couple of years because of its partnership with Major League Baseball, the pro sports organization that has taken the most flak this decade because of steroids.

The foundation was started by the family of former high school baseball player Taylor Hooton, who committed suicide in 2003 after coming down with severe depression as a result of taking steroids.

Taylor’s father, Don Hooton, goes around the country to give education on steroids and their effects.

Don had surprising information on who is taking steroids today.

“The fastest growing user group for anabolic steroids is little girls, 14- and 15-year old girls,” Don said. “The behavior is akin to bulimia and anorexia. They’re using drugs like Winstrol, which is a veterinary drug. That’s a drug that cuts muscle. Girls want the six-pack look in their abs, the four-pack look in their abs so they’re taking steroids.”

The top three reasons kids are using steroids, Don said, are to look better, to feel better about oneself and No. 3 is athletic performance.

Kids are taking steroids, Don said, to better compete for the opposite sex.

He said a majority of the drugs are coming from China. Though for people in Southern California, many cross the border to Mexico and are sold steroids and told how to smuggle them into the United States.

From China, they are usually shipped in a box, Don said, one foot wide and one foot deep.

They usually come in the form of a white powder and are then mixed with an oil, such as peanut or flaxseed oil, so they can be injected.

“For an extra 50 or 75 dollars, you can purchase a prescription,” Don said.

It’s a stereotype, Don acknowledged, but many gyms become the steroid marketplace.

“It’s a pretty safe stereotyping in most cases.” Don said. “Certainly not all those guys (are selling), but I’ve been around the stuff long enough.”

As far as side effects of steroids, there are many and they are widely publicized.

Acne on the back, mood swings and premature growth stoppage are a some examples.

Injuries are more likely too, Don said, because muscles are developing at such a rapid rate that ligaments and tendons can not keep up with them.

Don points to his son as another effect.

Many people experience severe depression after coming off steroids.

“The biggest damage, longer-term according to doctors, is there is no organ in the body that’s not affected (by steroid use),” Don said.

He added that life-expectancy becomes less for steroid users.

Just how easy is it to purchase steroids?

Don suggested a trip to Google.com.

He said to search “buy anabolic steroids online.”

That search nets 670,000 results.

Most local coaches and people associated with sports programs who were asked on the subject of steroids said they have never suspected one of their players were on steroids.

But there were a few who did.

“If any coach doesn’t suspect one of their kids are doing it, they’re lying to themselves,” said the coach who requested anonymity. “I think every program needs to be able to look at (steroids) and question.”

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