SARU letter to headmasters re: steroids

24 October, 2013 Dear Headmaster The South African Rugby Union has evidence to suggest that the use of anabolic steroids among schoolchildren is on the increase. I am appealing to you today to enlist in a campaign to address and confront this alarming sub-culture. I should start by conceding that my organisation has no direct jurisdiction over schoolboy rugby; SARU’s influence begins and ends with our Youth Week tournaments. However, we have a duty to alert you to what we believe is happening at schoolboy level and represents a danger to the children in your care and to the sport of rugby. A number of age group rugby players have tested positive for anabolic steroids and stimulants in the past two years. In interviews they have painted a lurid picture of widespread abuse and the connivance in some instances of coaches and team-mates. This is far from confined only to rugby players or even just to boys, we understand; one survey suggested that 63% of schoolchildren who admitted that they had taken steroids or would consider taking a steroid did so or would do so, not to improve performance, but to look good. However, we have a responsibility to the game of rugby and those young people who want to pursue the sport and we would strongly urge you and your governing body to seriously engage in this subject; one that threatens the health our children, the ‘fair play’ ethos of sport; the reputation of your school, our sport and even of South Africa. Last, but far, from least, the procurement or supply of anabolic steroids is a criminal activity. SARU’s request is simple: sign up your school to the free education programme of the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) – the pre-cursor to what we hope will become a long-planned, voluntary schools-testing programme referred to as the SAIDS School Testing programme. The education programme offers information and advice on the topic of drugs in sport and testing procedures and protocols. SARU requests that all schools playing rugby sign up now and ensure that their teachers, coaches and scholars receive this very important education. In due course, SAIDS hopes to offer a voluntary testing programme – once an agreed protocol has been negotiated with the Department of Basic Education. At that time we would also urge that your school sign up for the testing programme. The aim of the Schools Testing Programme is to educate all school learners on the dangers of steroids as well as acting as a deterrent by suggesting sanctions for schools to apply should a learner test positive for a banned substance once the programme is fully operational. SARU takes this issue very seriously and we cannot over-emphasise the threat it poses to rugby and to those schools who may unknowingly (or even knowingly) be harbouring steroid abusers. These children are gambling insanely with their health while those with the duty of care who turn a blind eye place at risk their professional well-being. … Continue reading SARU letter to headmasters re: steroids