Hidden Danger: Teenage Athletes and Steroids

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," April 27, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

ANDREW NAPOLITANO, GUEST HOST: NFL executives and former players front and center on Capitol Hill, talking about steroid use in sports and the trickle-down effect it's having on young kids.

Now lawmakers in Florida are doing something about it, calling for the nation's first statewide steroid testing program aimed at high school athletes.

Don Hooton is an activist for steroid prevention. His teenage son, Taylor, committed suicide after sinking into a steroid-related depression (search).

Today's big question, Don: Should we test high school athletes for steroids?

DON HOOTON, ANTI-STEROID ACTIVIST: Good afternoon, Judge. Yes. It's a very sad commentary to come to that conclusion. But I don't think we have any alternative but to begin testing kids for steroids, And I'm really happy to see the state of Florida take the lead on this one.

NAPOLITANO: How do 16-, 17-, 18-year-old athletes even get steroids? Where do they go? How do they get it into your bodies?

HOOTON: It's extremely easy for these kids to get it, Judge. Taylor was getting his from our local YMCA (search). He met his dealer there working out at the gym. And virtually in any gym in America where the big guys work out, steroids are readily available. But all you need to do is get on to the Internet. And, just in a matter of a few moments and a few keystrokes, I could show you close to a million sites where kids can buy prescription anabolic steroids right there online. It's frightening.

NAPOLITANO: Do we already test high school athletes for any other drugs, besides steroids?

HOOTON: Well, there are a number of school districts around the country that are testing for drugs. And a few are testing for steroids.

The Supreme Court on at least two occasions has approved this. It's not a violation of anybody's rights. But steroids right now are prolific. The usage rate is so much higher than most people realize that — combined with how dangerous this stuff is — the only way to know whether we've got these kids doing it is to test them.

But, more importantly, we need to provide a deterrent for the good kids, a reason to say no. Right now, there's virtually no check on these 15- and 16-year-old kids who are prone to use steroids. They have got a bunch of peer pressure to do it. They're looking up at the major league athletes. But the coaches aren't dealing with the problem. The parents don't know what to look for. The police aren't taking an aggressive stand on this one. And a testing program will help give them a reason to say no.

NAPOLITANO: We just have a few seconds left. Will this pass in Florida?

HOOTON: I certainly hope so. And, also, Governor Richardson in New Mexico announced just this week he's in favor of implementing a similar program in New Mexico. And I'm glad to see that one also.

NAPOLITANO: Don Hooton, thank you very much. Keep up with your great crusade.

HOOTON: Thank you so much.

NAPOLITANO: Oh, you're welcome.

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