Stars urge student athletes not to use steroids

July 11, 2008 3:09:41 PM PDT
Illinois high school athletes are training now for the fall -- and meeting or exceeding their dreams for the grid iron, ice or hoops. In Chicago Friday, some stars from the past gathered in front of a large group of high school athletes to tell them to get there without steroids.

The event is a timely reminder given that in the fall random testing of high school athletes starts in Illinois.

Nothing less than the man who was once the NFL's most feared man looked the future in the eye and told them using performance-enhancing drugs makes them losers -- on the field and in terms of their long-term health.

"Believe me, it may increase muscle mass, but the dangers to your health are overwhelming that you should not do it," said NFL Hall of Famer Dick Butkus.

To Butkus and his son, who run a non-profit organization called "Play Clean," athletic success is the result of hard training, smart eating, and competing with attitude. No steroid shortcuts. It's a mantra reinforced by other NFL stars including eleven-time Pro Bowler Anthony Munoz.

"I've played against a lot of guys where one year I would see them the next year they'd be 20 pounds heavier, maybe a little stronger, but they still couldn't get down the line to make a tackle. You know they were on steroids but it wasn't making them a better player," said Munoz.

This fall, the Illinois High School Association implements its much-awaited drug-testing program for high school athletes which it approved in January.

The organization estimates 10,365 student athletes use steroids in Illinois, which translates to 13.6 student-athletes per IHSA member school.

Don Hooton of Texas lost his son Taylor to suicide brought on by the mental instability that's often a side-effect of steroid abuse. He says elite athletes have to be punished where illegal drug use is proven.

"Not to try to lock you guys up, that's not the point, but to take your role models, and get their attention so that they learn that there's value in playing clean," said Hooton.

Hooton's message resonated with the group of student-athletes who are genuinely, it would seem, dedicated to living up to a pledge to play clean, made Friday in front of the hall-of-famers

"They are great role models for us and for them to teach us to do the right thing makes us all want to do the right thing," said Matt Fahey, student athlete.

On Newsviews this weekend, ABC7 will discuss high school steroid use and the intricacies of testing for banned substances in Illinois.

The tests will be administered randomly, but only during a given sport's playoffs.

Testing will be done by a third-party and is designed to be a deterrent.

Viewers can watch the discussion Sunday morning on ABC7 news beginning at 8 a.m.


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