Teens athletes: injuries and sports enhancing drugs - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Teen athletes: injuries and sports enhancing drugs

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With professional athletes making headlines for doping, you can't help but wonder about the kind of impact that has on young people who play sports. What are the dangers associated with the "win at any cost" attitude?

Some experts say it all depends on who the pressure is coming from. It's sometimes parents who begin to put a lot of pressure on their children at a very early age. The founder of a local sports academy says it's around the pre-teen and teenage years that he begins to hear athletes talk about supplements and performance enhancing drugs.

According to a study done by the Mayo Clinic, teens who use performance enhancing drugs often deal with negative body image, pressure from peers and parents. Also, males are at a greater risk to experiment with supplements and drugs related to sports.

Common performance enhancing supplements and drugs that teenage athletes turn to are creatine and  steroids. And professionals sometimes go to human growth hormones. The founder of RPM training facility in Hoover says it's important to talk to athletes at an early age.

"We want to try to inform these kids that these things are negative, these things have long term consequences that can affect you. Your ability to reproduce, cancer tumors can become worse, stunts of growth. There are so many things at the end of these can be so negative," said Lance Rhodes, founder of RPM Elite Sports Academy.

Rhodes says parents play a big part in the win at all cost culture. He says parents need to have a realistic view about their child's abilities.

He says the culture of sports has changed in general. He says we now live in a culture where sports are driven by fame and money. At his facility, he teaches parents and kids that the first priority is to have fun.

There's a common thought that young people can push their bodies harder with less risk of injury. That's not the case. I spoke with Doctor Jeff Dugas at Andrews sports medicine. He says young people can certainly heal faster, but they should never play or practice through pain - that's a sign that it's time to back off.

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