SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation to help student athletes better understand the dangers associated with steroid use. Senate Bill 64 requires Illinois school districts to provide targeted steroid abuse prevention education to all students participating in interscholastic sports. The new law addresses a critical need for focused prevention efforts for student athletes, requiring instruction that emphasizes the serious health hazards to people who use anabolic steroids to enhance athletic performance or physical development.
“Keeping kids healthy has to be the top priority for schools. With national attention focused on steroids in professional sports, the temptation is now even greater for highly motivated young athletes. This law assures that schools will give special attention to their student athletes, making them aware of the serious health threats of steroid use,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
Sponsored by Sen. Dave Sullivan (R-Park Ridge) and Rep. Sidney Mathias (R-Arlington Heights), the new law requires districts to teach all students participating in interscholastic sports about the risks and dangers of steroid abuse. Current law requires awareness and prevention to be taught in grades seven through 12 as a part of the school’s curriculum, without any special focus for interscholastic athletes. The new law is important, however, because student athletes are at a much higher risk of falling into the trap of steroid abuse. In fact, a study of student athletes from the Mayo Clinic found that 8.2 percent of teenage athletes in the U.S. report using the steroid Creatine and 11 percent of male athletes and 2.5 percent of female athletes have tried anabolic steroids.
“I sponsored this bill to address a serious health concern for our youth,” said Senator Dave Sullivan (R-Park Ridge). “We need to be doing everything we can to make sure that students involved in competitive sports understand the life-threatening risks of steroid abuse. This law makes certain that this will happen in every Illinois school district.”
Anabolic steroid abuse has been associated with a wide range of adverse physical and psychological side effects including heart attacks and liver cancer. These may be more dangerous in young adults because they can stop growth. Research has shown that when coaches and team leaders discuss with high school athletes the harmful effects of anabolic steroids and teach the approach of proper strength training and nutrition, steroid abuse is greatly reduced.
“Often times, students are participating in athletic competition from the beginning of their high school career, but they’re not taking a course that provides steroid abuse education until late 11th or 12th grade,” said Rep. Mathias. “This law ensures that each year and for each activity, students are receiving information and are being discouraged from using anabolic steroids.”
The social and economic impact of steroid abuse by children in middle school and high school is felt throughout the country. A recent survey conducted by the National Institute of Drug Abuse shows that children are trying steroids as young as thirteen years of age.
The State Board of Education will assist districts in the development of instructional materials and teacher training related to steroid abuse prevention. The Illinois High School Association (IHSA), the governing body for interscholastic sports in Illinois schools, has begun to work with its national organization in the preparation of education materials to support steroid abuse prevention education. The law takes effect upon its signing.