Got Steroids?

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:47

    Dr. Francis Imbarrato acknowledges that high school athletes have walked into his Horizon Medical Center complex on Route 208 in Monroe and claimed to be anabolic steroids users. The doctor refuses to name because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) law, but the patient is already showing signs of Kidney damage at a young age. He says just by picking up any medical text book to read about the harm steroids do to a person should be enough to discourage people from using but it doesn't. Steroids can harm the endocrine system, the heart, cause strokes, and even lead to cancer, he explains. But still people continue to shoot up. However, he doesn't think that the use is that widespread in the area. The Goshen resident has a son, Greg, who graduated from Chapel Field in 2002, where he was a three-sport star. Imbarrato used to keep tabs on his son during practice and never heard him talk about describe a teammate or an opponent as a potential user. And he says in this area, the phase fizzles out because once student-athletes reach their senior year in high school, they know that they are probably not going to get a full-ride to play sports. In fact, only one basketball player from the winter season in the county received a scholorhip. And to this date, no football player is yet to sign a Division I Letter of Intent. But the reality is, high school athletes are on the juice. But unless students brag about it, no one really knows. Schools rarely test because the cost for one of these examinations is astronomical at about $100 per test. Try to get that one on the school budget. But maybe it should be. According to the Centers for Disease Control, overall youth steroid use remains alarmingly high. According to the 1999 Monitoring the Future Study, the percentage of eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders who reported using steroids at least once in their lives has increased steadily over the past four years (an average of 1.8 percent in 1996, 2.1 percent in 1997, 2.3 percent in 1998, and 2.8 percent in 1999). It is estimated by congress that the number has doubled since then. That's pretty frightening to think, knowing that steroids can cause deep depression in teens and even lead to suicide. But these are just the ones who admit use. Nobody really knows the true number. Recently, congress intervened as they ordered a handful of major league baseball players linked to steroids to appear before them, fearing that these "role models" were influencing young athletes to use the performance enhancer. The day after opening day 35 minor league players failed their first drug test, even though they knew what was coming. But baseball is not alone here, 60 Minutes recently linked as many as nine members of the NFL's Carolina Panthers in using the drug illegally prescribed by a South Carolina doctor. The same Congressional committee that conducted hearings into steroids in baseball has asked NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue for information about how football regulates the performance-enhancing substances. The Government Reform Committee also said last week that it will ask for similar data from the NBA, NHL, NCAA, U.S. Track and Field and Major League Soccer. The NFL has had random testing for steroids for the past 15 years. A total of 44 players have been suspended during that period for using the performance-enhancing substances. But what is to stop an aspiring athlete from shooting up when they can get their education paid for on an athletic scholarship or even score a seven figure deal in the pro's? Because people can get addicted. And even die. "There is a significant psychological component," said Imbarrato . "There is an obsession to improve your own performance." But he says that the recreational use in local gym's have more users than hallways of our schools. "You can get it anywhere," he says. "There is no doubt you can get it online and on the black market." But someone must be using in our schools, right? Warwick football coach Greg Sirico doesn't think so, but he is well aware of the problem. He has brought in a professional trainer to speak to his freshman class about the potential problems of using anabolic steroids and creatine. And how to get bigger, faster, and stronger without dangerous supplements. "All coaches are very wary of the potential usage," said Sirico. "I don't suspect any steroid usage but the coaches are on a big movement to make sure there are no problems." Sirico, who was a standout for SUNY Cortland in the late 80's and early 90's, says that kids were experimenting back then, but it wasn't the athletes. "There are body builders using it and people for recreational use," he said. "It's not just athletes Matt Stack works out at a local gym and suspects some usage there. "Definitely," he said. "You see people there that don't even look normal." But as the main man in the Monroe-Woodbury huddle over the past four years, he says he never suspected a teammate or an opponent as a user. The quarterback who is looking for a place to call home next year says that there will be no temptation for him once in a college locker room. "I'm not worried," said the all-stater. "I know I have to keep my head on my shoulders and work out hard."