“Massive Abuse” of Steroids by High School Rugby Players in South Africa

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The president of the South Africa Sports Medicine Association claims there is “massive abuse” of anabolic steroids among high school rugby players. Dr Jon Patricios said that he consults with at least a dozen parents every month about steroid issues involving their children. He sees a lot of competitive pressure among high school athletes to succeed in the sport.

He said parents were increasingly complaining of finding steroids in their sons’ possession, adding: “Some say they can’t believe the sudden changes in the size (of their sons).”

“There’s a big emphasis on making it into the Craven Week sides. If you don’t make it into Craven Week, you are really lost in the rugby wilderness, because there are no prospects of bursaries and selection for provincial teams.”

“A pupil told me that half of the first-team rugby squad at his school were on steroids.”

Dr. Patricios comments come after anti-doping tests uncovered a relatively high rate of illegal steroid use among high school students at eighteen of South Africa’s top schools. Twenty-one out of 130 students tested positive for at least one anabolic steroid. Twelve of these students were busted with anabolic steroids in their possession

Approximately 60% of the positive test results involved students involved in competitive sports such as rugby; the other 40% involved students who use steroids primarily to improve physical appearance.

Drug Detection International in Johannesburg was commissioned to collect the samples; forensic analysis was done at a laboratory in the United States.

Unfortunately, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the corresponding national anti-doping organization, the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sports (SAIDFS), are spearheading efforts to tackle the problem of steroid use among high school students. Rather than focus on steroid education and harm reduction initiatives, WADA and SAIDFS are pushing for greater steroid testing in high schools (paid for by increased public funding).

South African Institute for Drug Free Sport

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