January 17, 2013

McKinney, TX  (January 17, 2013)

The Taylor Hooton Foundation (THF), widely acknowledged leader in the advocacy against performance enhancing substance abuse by the youth of North America, released the following statement with respect to Lance Armstrong’s admission that he used Performance Enhancing Drugs.

The Lance Armstrong Confession:  What have we learned?

Because the Taylor Hooton Foundation is recognized as the nation’s leader on the topic of educating about the dangers of appearance and performance enhancing drugs (APEDs), we’ve been asked a lot lately about our thoughts on the Lance Armstrong confession.  We’ve discussed this over the past several days, and the conclusion we came to is this:

The important message isn’t really about Lance Armstrong.  It’s about our kids.

Sure, when an internationally known athlete gets caught doing something against the rules of their sport as well as against the law, it’s newsworthy to a lot of people.  Especially after 15+ years of vehement denials and the ruining of countless lives along the way.  But this really isn’t news – at least not surprising news to most people inside the world of cycling – or anyone who has seen a news report over the past few years.

What’s really surprising to us at the THF is this:  most people are virtually oblivious to the huge number of kids that have followed their role models’ lead and are using anabolic steroids or other APEDs.  Most people believe that this problem is somehow limited to the ranks of elite athletes.  We speak to coaches, athletic directors and school administrators at the middle school, high school and collegiate level every day and the vast majority of them tell us “steroid use is not a problem here.”  When we ask them how they know this, the answers range from the absurd (“I’ve never once seen one of my athletes inject themselves with steroids”), to the well-meaning (“we talk to our students about the dangers of drug use”), to the honestly misinformed (“we did some random testing and none of my kids tested positive”).

While the media is all over the Lance/Oprah interview, and thousands of parents, coaches and adult influencers around the country sit in their offices or homes satisfied that they don’t have a problem in their own schools, our kids are taking these drugs to look better and to perform better in competition, just like their “heroes” (role models) in professional sports.  “How many kids?” you might ask.  How about more than 1.5 million!  That’s the number of middle school and high school aged kids (boys AND girls) who actually admitted using anabolic steroids in a recent study conducted by the Univ. of Minnesota and published in the Journal of Pediatrics.  And that number doesn’t include those who are unknowingly ingesting steroids and other harmful substances via the un-regulated dietary supplements they are purchasing over the counter in local health and vitamin stores.

So yes, the real story is about our kids, not Lance.

This is a teachable moment.

Parents, coaches, and teachers should be using this incident as a reason to talk to our youth about why they shouldn’t be using steroids and other APEDs.  We should not spend our time bemoaning the treatment that Lance has gotten, we should be focused on using our energy to educate our kids about the dangers of using these drugs as well as the immorality of cheating, reminding them that this behavior is illegal.

Does education work?  Sure it does, if it’s done properly, or done at all.  Unfortunately, a study conducted by Proctor & Gamble revealed that 85% of kids at the HS level had never had anyone talk to them about the dangers of APEDs.  They talk to them about smoking and alcohol and cocaine, etc., but not these drugs.

That’s why the education programs from the Taylor Hooton Foundation are so important – our programs explain why these drugs shouldn’t be used, even if they weren’t banned from sport or illegal to use.  And we know they are effective (visit taylorhooton.org to see the results of a survey conducted by the Federal Government that validates this point). You see, our goal is not to just address the use of these drugs by our kids, but to eliminate it.  And we won’t rest until that happens.

Random testing is not a panacea to dealing with this issue.

Oh, one last thing.  To those who feel that random testing is the answer or that feel that absence of a positive test results means that an athlete is not using steroids, we have a number for you:  500.

That’s the number of drug tests Lance claims to have passed during his 15+ years of admitted doping without ever testing positive . . . .

The Taylor Hooton Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to educating North America’s young people about the dangers of anabolic steroids and other appearance and performance enhancing drugs.   The Foundation was formed in 2004 by the friends and family of Taylor Hooton after his untimely death.

For more information about the Taylor Hooton Foundation and its efforts, please visit www.taylorhooton.org.

Kyle Purdy, VP Corporate Development