This from The Irish Independent:
Fears for teens over drugs in school sport
By Allison Bray
Saturday October 20 2007
THE number of school students taking body-building supplements has exploded, prompting calls from the Irish Sports Council for a blanket ban in competitive sports.
Prof Brendan Buckley, an endocrinologist and chairman of the ISC's anti-doping committee, says he is concerned by the increase in young athletes -- especially those playing contact sports like rugby or boxing -- taking over-the-counter supplements to increase their bulk, weight, muscle mass and stamina.
Although schools officially condemn student athletes taking such supplements, there is anecdotal evidence that many teachers and coaches are turning a blind-eye to what he termed an "arms race" among athletes at senior school level.
So-called food or nutritional supplements purporting to boost levels of the male hormone testosterone or increase muscle mass and strength may contain banned substances, including steroids and/or medicinal ingredients that can be harmful or even fatal, he said.
Marketed under aggressive, macho-sounding brand names like Man Clout and Thunder Punch, they claim taking the product will lead to "massive size gains" or "stimulate explosive muscular power and strength".
But recent studies revealed that more than 20pc of such products actually contain steroids which are not only banned from use in sport but can lead to serious developmental and health problems, according to Prof Buckley.
"There is a continuous generation of new products and they all tend to have aggressive names that imply they'll increase testosterone levels or other wild claims.
"Many of them are made in places like China in industrial labs, not in scientific labs under hygienic conditions. Many of them are dirty and potentially dangerous," he said.
While the Council is not against professional athletes taking some nutritional supplements like protein shakes, which are dispensed as part of a nutritional plan, he said parents, teachers and coaches should educate themselves on the dangers of these so-called miracle boosters, he added.
"There is a role for taking clean, traceable food supplements, but they're not magic potions to make you fast, beautiful and strong," he said.
Taking steroids alone -- especially by boys who have not fully grown or matured -- can interfere with genital maturation and skeletal growth as well as lead to extreme aggression, he said.
More worrying still are some of the medicinal ingredients found in some supplements that are not only illegal but can be highly dangerous, according to Dr Joan Gilvarry of the Irish Medicines Board.
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