Minister Meyer Warns Learners of the Dangers of Performance-Enhancing Drugs
As a result of recent reports relating to performance-enhancing drug abuse in schools, Dr Ivan Meyer, Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport in the Western Cape, has issued a stern warning to learners.
Minister Meyer said, "These children do not realise what they are doing to their bodies and to their lives. Performance-enhancing substances should not be taken lightly; they can end promising careers and destroy lives. Professional athletes only take legal performance enhancers under strict supervision of qualified nutritionists. School children have no idea what dangers are involved with steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. There are safe and healthy alternatives; nothing can beat a healthy diet and a good exercise regime."
While teenagers no doubt feel peer pressure to perform, not only in the classroom, but on the sport fields too, "this is the wrong route to go," said Minister Meyer. "Children should firstly not have access to these substances, and parents should not turn a blind eye, and should be more vigilant when noticing a sudden or unusual increase in their child's athletic ability or physical size. Getting a 'six-pack' should not come as a result of drug abuse. At the end of the day, these are still children, and they need guidance from their parents, teachers and coaches. Substance abuse of any kind opens doors to pathways best not followed. International sport superstars have ruined their lives after being discovered taking illegal performance enhancers. At the end of the day the truth will out, and I implore these children to think twice before opening up Pandora's Box."
One cannot simply reprimand and punish learners who have taken these substances, instead an informative education campaign needs to be conducted so that our young athletes can understand the dangers associated with what they are doing, and that there are natural and healthy alternatives.
"The pressure to perform is at its peak with the senior players, so we need to be sensitive but firm around how the cases are dealt with. I think sports psychologists need to be on hand for counselling. I am confident that the National Department's intention to amend laws allowing school children to be randomly tested for performance enhancing drugs and to perform search operations at schools where abuse is suspected, is a step in the right direction and will make our sports fields safer," said Minister Meyer.
For more information, parents and learners can contact the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport or the World Anti-Doping Agency. Minister Meyer continued, "If learners don't have internet access, come into my office. I have plenty of reading material and information booklets available."
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