Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

VIEWPOINT; Time Has Come to Screen High School Athletes for Illegal Drugs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

VIEWPOINT; Time Has Come to Screen High School Athletes for Illegal Drugs

Article excerpt

During the past few weeks, three interesting news stories emerged related to the health and safety of athletes. Two of the stories commanded national media attention. The first focused on Brian DeMarco, old No. 73 of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

A seriously crippled DeMarco told a Congressional subcommittee he is broke and uninsured. He claims he can't get the National Football League or the Players' Association to even hear his claim for disability benefits. The following week, a second story involved the late Chris Benoit, the "Canadian Crippler," star of "professional" wrestling. An apparent murder-suicide was committed involving Benoit, his 7-year-old son and wife in the family's Fayetteville, Ga., home.

A third related story, with much less national media fanfare, announced the newly enacted law now in effect subjecting some Florida student athletes to random steroid testing. Under the new one-year test legislation, the Florida High School Athletics Association will supervise the testing in its 426 public and 224 private member schools.


A physically and emotionally broken DeMarco insisted in televised interviews that his applications for disability benefits had gone unanswered. Gene Upshaw, executive director of the National Football League's Players Association, reported his view that DeMarco "had never applied for assistance." DeMarco said he had filed for "line-of-duty" disability in both 2001 and 2002. "How can I have slipped through the cracks? I was homeless and disabled. Of course, I would file for disability, but the disability system is broken," the 35 year-old DeMarco contended. Some NFL union trustees indicated they will look into DeMarco's case.


In the wrestling case, initially it was reported the 40-year-old Benoit had murdered his son, his wife and himself. Then it was learned Benoit's physician was implicated in the bizarre triple murder. Physician Phil Astin was arrested in Atlanta, and faces federal charges of allegedly improperly dispensing painkillers to Benoit. Astin was indicted on seven counts of inappropriately prescribing drugs such as Vicoprofen, Percocet, Xanax and Lorcet, when there was no apparent medical need.

In the strange odyssey of pro wrestlers, Benoit enjoyed a good reputation. Many have attributed his actions to what is known as "roid rage," the depression that often comes with use of body enhancing steroids. …

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