Sports Illustrated Presents Award to Combat Steroid Abuse

NEW YORK –  The Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), with its landmark steroid and drug prevention/health promotion programs ATLAS (Athletes Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids) and ATHENA (Athletes Targeting Healthy Exercise and Nutrition Alternatives), has been named the recipient of Sports Illustrated’s (SI) first annual SI Champion Award, given to a non-profit for its exemplary work in the sports arena. The announcement was made today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. by SI President Mark Ford.

The selection was the culmination of an open application process for non-profits that are involved in youth sports or are headed by a sports figure. A total of 48 organizations applied.

Seven million young athletes are engaged in school-sponsored sports in the United States today. School sports, however, do not safeguard these athletes from drug use or other unhealthy behaviors. Based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest information (2003), approximately 850,000 high school students have admitted using steroids. Since 1993, steroid use among this age group has increased from one in every 45 to one in 16.

To help combat the problem, ATLAS and ATHENA were developed to reach male and female high school athletes, respectively. Through the partnership with SI, the programs will receive cash and public service announcements in the magazine totaling one million dollars to create a network of schools that will serve as national models, demonstrating the healthy mission of sports and how student athletes can become winners for life.

SI will also create an SI Schools Web site, which will focus on state-of-the-art nutrition, exercise training, and drug prevention for athletic directors, coaches, parents and young athletes.

During Spring 2006, four regional sites will be awarded Sports Illustrated Workshops, designed to inform coaches and high schools about the issue of steroids and drugs in sports. When workshop sites are determined, selected schools from those regions will receive SI School grants to place ATLAS and ATHENA in the schools during the 2006-2007 school year.

ATLAS, a multi-component program for male high school athletes, first instituted in 1993, is scientifically shown to reduce risk factors and use of anabolic steroids, alcohol and other illicit drugs while promoting healthy nutrition and exercise behaviors. Proven results include: new substance use decreased 50 percent; new anabolic steroid use decreased 50 percent; occurrences of drinking and driving declined 24 percent; a lower index of alcohol and drug use; reduced use of performance-enhancing supplements; and improved nutrition and exercise behaviors.

ATHENA, which began reaching schools in 1997, features the promotion of healthy nutrition and effective exercise training as alternatives to harmful behaviors. The objectives are: reduce young women athletes’ disordered eating habits; deter use of body-shaping substances; improve sport performance with guidelines targeting the specific needs of young women. Proven results include: less use of athletic enhancing substances; less use of diet pills; less riding in a car with a drinking driver; greater seatbelt use; less new sexual activity; improved nutrition behaviors and reduced long-term use of alcohol, marijuana and tobacco.

ATLAS and ATHENA are programs within the newly created Center for Health Promotion Research at OHSU. Financial support for the center is directed through the OHSU Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation that funds the center’s efforts to bring innovative and effective strategies to public service.

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