The World Anti-Doping Agency has called for every Australian school student to be taught about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs, saying children are putting their health at risk by taking steroids and sports supplements.
WADA president John Fahey said revelations of professional athletes using peptides and hormones highlighted the need to educate young people. ”We tend to follow the champions, we don’t follow the suburban athletic fields. But so much of what has gone wrong in terms of doping in sports is not limited to people at the elite level,” he said.
”We need to get that message into the curriculum at schools, just as we have against illegal drugs. We will win this fight if we focus on kids at an early age.”
His warning comes as Fairfax Media can reveal a senior student at the elite Cranbrook School, in Bellevue Hill, was caught taking steroids and sacked from the rowing squad in the past four years.
Senior school head Michael Parker refused to comment on the student, who has since graduated, but said: ”Good men can make bad mistakes.”
This month in Brisbane, two students, aged 16 and 17, were expelled from St Joseph’s Nudgee College and charged by police for possession and supply of steroids.
Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton said the use of sports supplements by young people had reached crisis point. ”Something like 3 per cent of teenage boys have used muscle-enhancing drugs and that’s really concerning. That’s somebody in every graduating class from every school,” he said.
A Sydney University study of 1090 boys from public, private and Catholic high schools in NSW, has found more than a quarter of students in years 11 and 12 used supplements such as amino acids and protein powders to gain weight and muscle.
A Fairfax investigation has found some students at The Scots College, also in Bellevue Hill, are fed protein powder drinks and carbohydrate replacements by teachers as part of the school’s sports program. The school has also signed a sponsorship deal with a sports supplement company for its schoolboy rugby sevens tournament.
Principal Ian Lambert said the use of sports supplements was recommended by sports scientists and dieticians to aid students’ fitness and recovery. ”Boys and parents are told to always check everything they do with their doctors,” he said.
But Butterfly Foundation chief Christine Morgan said such practices put students’ health at risk. ”The use of sports supplements and protein powders is part of this much bigger problem we have with boys, who are getting into very risky eating patterns and exercise,” she said.
Students should be taught about the dangers of performance- and image-enhancing products in the same way they learn about drug and alcohol abuse, she said.