Anti-steroid programs work in short term
Programs designed to reduce performance-enhancing drug use among teenage athletes are effective in the short term, but their impact over longer periods of time is unclear, a report by the Government Accountability Office concluded.
The report, released Thursday, included evaluations of two programs that have received federal funding: ATLAS, which targets male athletes, and ATHENA, for female athletes.
A 2000 study found that students who went through the ATLAS program during their sports season were less likely than those who didn't to abuse steroids at the end the season. After a year, the difference in steroid use between the two groups wasn't statistically significant. What was statistically significant was that students who went through the program were less likely to say that they intended to abuse steroids.
The study did not measure the impact beyond a year's time.
Dr. Linn Goldberg, a co-creator of the ATLAS and ATHENA programs who participated in the research cited in the GAO report, said that a yet-to-be-published study of the ATHENA program found positive long-term effects.
Goldberg was disappointed that the GAO report seemed to downplay the meaningfulness of the programs' impact both at the end of the season and after a year.
"For a kid, a year is a long time," he said.
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