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NFL launches $1.2 million youth anti-steroid program

  • By National Football League
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Representatives From U.S. Department of Education and National Institute on Drug Abuse Join Redskins at Launch of NFL ATLAS and ATHENA Drug Prevention Programs


Washington, DC -- The NFL launched a $1.2 million anti-steroid and exercise education program today at an event with the Washington Redskins. Funded by a grant from the NFL's Youth Football Fund to Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), the NFL ATLAS and ATHENA Schools Program will reach 20,000 high school athletes and 800 coaches in 40 high schools throughout the 2007-2008 school year.

ATLAS and ATHENA co-creators Drs. Linn Goldberg and Diane Elliot, and NFL Vice President of Player and Employee Development Michael Haynes participated in the event, which included a Q&A between Redskins players Pierson Prioleau and Shaun Suisham and 300 local high school athletes and coaches.

The ATLAS and ATHENA programs are nationally-acclaimed programs designed to promote healthy living and reduce the use of steroids, human growth hormone (HGH) and other drugs among high school athletes. They were studied and proven effective with grant funding from NIDA. In addition to the Redskins, NFL teams participating include the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans. Local schools were chosen based on interviews with program administrators and school-wide commitment from the principal, athletic director and coaches.

The ATLAS and ATHENA programs focus on nutrition and exercise as alternatives to drug use. The ATLAS program targets adolescent male athletes' use of anabolic steroids, alcohol, sports supplements and other drugs, while improving healthy nutrition and exercise practices. ATHENA is designed to reduce disordered eating behaviors and drug use, including body-shaping drugs, among young women, while promoting healthy nutrition and exercise.

Throughout the year, coaches and student-athletes trained as "Squad Leaders" will lead their school teams in exercises using peer and group influences to promote sports nutrition and healthy behaviors. These weekly 45-minute sessions include role-play, student-created campaigns and interactive games. Participants will create mock public service announcements to teach others about the importance of avoiding substance use. Selected PSAs from each school will go on to the "Playoffs" between the other schools in the region. The "Playoffs" will continue, with competition between Conference Divisions, leading to the NFL School Bowl, with the AFC Champion vs. the NFC Champion.

Proven Results
o ATLAS and ATHENA have been implemented in more than 31 states in the US and Puerto Rico
o ATLAS Results (Published in 1996 and 2000)
o New anabolic steroid use decreased 50%
o New alcohol and illicit drug use decreased 50%
o Occurrences of drinking and driving declined 24%
o Reduced use of performance-enhancing supplements
o Improved nutrition and exercise behaviors
o Students believed they were better athletes
" ATHENA Results (Published in 2004)
o Reduced use of athletic enhancing substances (steroids, amphetamines, supplements)
o Reduced new and ongoing use of diet pills, alcohol and marijuana
o Less riding in a car with a drunk driver
o Reduced new sexual activity
o Improved nutrition behaviors
o Fewer injuries

About the NFL Youth Football Fund

Established in 1998 by the NFL and the NFLPA, the NFL Youth Football Fund seeks to use football as a catalyst to promote positive youth development, support youth and high school football needs nationwide and also ensure the health of grassroots football in future generations. Through the YFF, many youth football initiatives and support programs have been developed, providing youngsters with opportunities to learn the game of football, get physically fit and stay involved in productive after-school activities with adult mentors. The NFL grant is one of a series of improvements to the NFL and NFL Players Association's policy and program on anabolic steroids, hGH and related substances.

About ATLAS and ATHENA

The ATLAS (Adolescents Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids) and ATHENA (Athletes Targeting Healthy Exercise and Nutrition Alternatives) programs are directed by Linn Goldberg, M.D. and Diane Elliot, M.D., of the OHSU School of Medicine. The nationally-recognized programs have undergone randomized controlled evaluations involving more than 4,000 student-athletes in over 50 high schools and have been disseminated for use in more than 60 schools in 31 states. The results of the programs are published in leading medical journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. ATLAS and ATHENA are the only programs recommended by the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004, recognized as model curricula. Please visit www.atlasprogam.com.

About NIDA

The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research information to inform policy and improve practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and further information on NIDA research can be found on the NIDA web site at www.drugabuse.gov

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