June 11, 2014
Rhode Island Interscholastic League Receives $75,000 Grant to Continue Warning about Dangers of Performance-enhancing Drugs

 Operation Clean Competition program has educated 16,000 students, coaches and faculty in past year.

 PROVIDENCE, RI – The Rhode Island Interscholastic League (RIIL) will be able to continue warning thousands of Rhode Island student athletics about the dangers of appearance and performance enhancing drugs (APEDs) thanks to a $75,000 grant from Rhode Island Foundation.


This is the second straight year the RIIL has received funding from the Foundation for its “Operation Clean Competition” initiative. Since launching the program in August 2013, RIIL has educated more than 16,000 students, coaches and faculty at 31 school assemblies and community events.

“We are thrilled to be awarded this additional funding. We will be partnering again with the Taylor Hooton Foundation (THF) to continue our efforts delivering these critical messages across the state of Rhode Island,” said Tom Mezzanotte, RIIL’s executive director.  “But, there is more work to be done. Providing the information to the parents is just as important as educating the students.  Reaching more parents is a top priority for the coming school year.”

According to the RIIL, research shows that over 1.5 million teens admit to using anabolic steroids and more than 6 million teens admit to using APEDs including human-growth-hormone (hGH) and dietary supplements that contain banned substances.  Body image is a leading factor driving APED usage.

“Our goal is to educate as many people as possible about not only the dangers of steroid use, but also the hidden substances found in many of today’s over the counter supplements,” Mezzanotte noted. “The shocking part about those numbers is 85 percent of teens say they have never had an adult talk to them about the topic.  Well, now we’re talking.”

RIIL will continue contracting with THF to provide the presentations. Formed in memory of Taylor E. Hooton, a 17-year-old-high school student athlete who took his own life as a result of using anabolic steroids, THF is considered a national expert on the topic with partners and funding sources including Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Hockey League.

“We are very proud of the work that the RIIL is doing in addressing this topic with Rhode Island’s youth and their parents.  This state is leading the nation with their efforts to make sure that Rhode Island students have the information that they need to make intelligent choices when they are tempted to use these drugs.  And, all of these kids will be tempted along the way,” said Don Hooton, THF’s president.

In addition to renewing RIIL’s community and high school programming, the Foundation’s latest grant will enable the organization to expand into middle schools as well. All the events are free of charge.

“We support the health of young people in many ways,” said Neil Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “By raising awareness about the dangers of performance-enhancing substances, Operation Clean Competition is promoting the importance of healthy and active lifestyles.”

The grant is through the Foundation’s Clean Competition Fund, which was established in partnership with the Office of the U.S. Attorney as part of a settlement with Genescience Pharmaceuticals in 2011. The fund can support educational outreach or scientific projects that support anti-doping in sports; drug testing of hGH and performance-enhancing substances; or clinical research on the long term health implications of such substances.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island.  In 2013, the Foundation made grants of more than $31 million to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit www.rifoundation.org.