Drug testing at schools

Performance Enhancing Substances

New revelations in the Sunday Times of 1st April 2012 regarding an increasing incidence of smoking, alcohol and drugs in South African schools as well as the 2-year ban imposed on 2 school boy rugby players following positive tests for steroids has once again highlighted the need for a better understanding of drug and steroid use in schools in South African and around the world.

In light of the above, The South African Institute for Drug Free Sport(SAIDS) has indicated that it will step up its testing at schools around South Africa starting with those schools with strong sporting traditions.

We have put together some documents for parents and children to better understand the drug testing process as well as an athlete’s rights and responsibilities during the doping control process. In addition, there is also a handy guide on understanding some of the groups of doping substances available.

A number of research studies have been conducted to try and get a grip on the actual numbers of kids involved in a wide range of substance use and abuse as well as the reasons behind such use.

There appears to be a number of factors driving the growing numbers of adolescents presenting with signs of increased use (deliberate or inadvertent) of such substances. These range from:

  • Pressure from parents, coaches and schools to perform
  • The lure of lucrative contracts post school
  • The need to “look good” – the “beach bod”
  • Staying ahead of the pack as late developing athletes catch up with the early developers
  • Peer pressure – “Mom, everyone else is doing it and I will be at a disadvantage.”
  • A lack of education around the dangers of performance enhancers
  • An unregulated supplement industry
  • The need for a “quick fix” instead of working hard to develop the necessary muscles
  • A lack of education regarding the benefits of a balanced, healthy diet achieved through eating the correct foods

A great deal more research needs to take place around  why adolescents feel the need to seek success from a pill, powder or other such performance enhancer as well as a concerted on-going awareness and education programme. SAIDS does some excellent work around these issues but they need to be supported by the schools, parents, coaches and communities. They have recently launched their I Play Fair campaign in which they ask athletes to love your sport, respect your competitors and most importantly, to respect yourselves and to pledge to compete drug-free.



  1. http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/2012/04/01/schools-in-drugs-war
  2. http://www.drugfreesport.org.za/news/
  3. http://www.positivesportparent.com/2011/07/dangers-of-doping/
  4. http://www.positivesportparent.com/2011/05/what-should-parents-look-out-for-if-they-suspect-their-son-may-be-taking-anabolic-steriods/
  5. http://www.positivesportparent.com/2011/02/illegal-or-ignorant-how-performance-enhancing-substances-can-damage-a-career/
  6. http://www.sharksmart.co.za/
  7. Attitudes and perceptions towards performance enhancing substance use in Johannesburg boys high school sport. Philippe Gradidge, Yoga Coopoo and Demitri Constantinou. South African Journal of Sport Medicine (Vol 22, No 2. 2010)
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