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Wednesday 01, Oct 2008

  Two more busted in St. Landry Parish steroid ring investigation

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mexico-steroidsWe’ve reported about the huge steroid ring in St. Landry Parish some months ago, in which over 100 people are believed to be involved in. The Sheriff’s Office of St. Landry Parish in July this year has identified local high school football players and business professionals as suspected anabolic steroid users.

Local authorities have conducted a seven-month investigation based on reports of steroid use in the area as well as in the surrounding parishes. The investigation has initially netted four suspects and yielded what is considered to be the largest ever steroid seizure in the area. It was reported that at least $15,000 worth of steroids – about 60 bottles of anabolic steroids in liquid form and at least 600 dosages in pill form – were found by authorities. Many of the drugs are believed to have been bought online or from Mexico.

Then in August, two more arrests have been carried out in connection with the investigation. St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz believes there will be more arrests coming up as detectives keep a close eye of at least 100 persons of interest.

“It is a very close-knit group of people who use anabolic steroids, and it is very difficult to infiltrate,” Guidroz said. “The closeness of the groups makes it a little harder to get information. But we’re not giving up.”

It has been reported that steroid use and distribution takes place at local gyms and detectives have zeroed in on Eunice, Opelousas, Krotz Springs and surrounding areas.

The four people who were arrested in July were 21-year-old Ty Johnson of Eunice; 23-year-old Holly Fontenot of Eunice; and Adrian Savoie and Terri A. Kirkpatrick, both of Opelousas.

Vicente Richard of Opelousas was arrested Aug. 19. Richard, 37, is now facing charges of distribution of Schedule III controlled dangerous substances, criminal conspiracy, possession of drug, paraphernalia and possession with intent to distribute Schedule III controlled dangerous substances.

Jamal B. Joseph, 22, of Opelousas, was arrested the same day and faces similar charges.

Wednesday 13, Aug 2008

  High school athletes’ rampant use of steroids – p2

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steroids-schoolHigh school athletes’ rampant use of steroids – part 2

You can’t lie to kids

Woolfolk knows what he’s talking about since he had personally seen the widespread use of steroids in sports, particularly in the NFL. Woolfolk, who originally hailed from Milwaukee, played collegiately at Michigan and in the NFL from 1982-88, most notably with the Houston Oilers.

Woolfolk now works as a consultant for the forward Edge, drug-testing firm based out of Houston. He says that if people don’t think steroids are a problem in high school, they need immediate reality check.

“When I spoke in front of the (Texas) Senate Committee hearings, I knew what was going on, because I have a good feel for what’s going on in high school,” Woolfolk said. “I knew at least 15-20 guys that were using. I threw out statistics that astonished (Senate members).
“When they voted (to implement mandatory steroid testing in Texas high schools last school year), it was almost unanimous.”

He says he always knew it was an “epidemic in football”. He related how he would see firsthand football players taking steroids in the locker rooms with trainers administering the banned compounds.

“It was done out in the open, but you’ve gotta remember, it was different back then. There was no steroid testing back then,” Woolfolk said.

Woolfolk’s area has also witnessed a sting operation similar to that of the St. Landry Parish.

Almost a year ago, Texas authorities busted an underground a home-based steroid lab in Pearland. The operation was part of the nationwide investigation dubbed as “Operation Raw Deal” which has resulted to 124 arrests and the seizure of 56 steroid labs across the United States. In total, 11.4 million steroid dosage units were seized, as well as 242 kilograms of raw steroid powder of Chinese origin. As part of Operation Raw Deal, $6.5 million was also seized, as well as 25 vehicles, 3 boats, 27 pill presses, and 71 weapons.

In the Pearland raid, authorities found eight kilograms of raw steroid powders, more than 100,000 steroid tablets and 200 10-milligram vials of injectable anabolic steroids.

Woolfolk attributes the lure of steroids to their effectiveness.

“Biggest problem with steroids is they work,” Woolfolk said. “You want to get bigger, stronger, faster, you take steroids. You can’t lie to kids and say it won’t help you. They see the results.”

Strother also acknowledges the need for kids to know about the truth about these substances. He is concerned that more and more kids are using steroids and the demographics are getting younger too. Steroid use is the trend nowadays, he says.

“I think the place you start is education at a young age,” Strother said. “You provide them education about all the problems. The testing sounds good on paper, but we’re still seeing an increase in use. They’re very well aware of all the ins and outs of testing. They’re not all that random. It’s not enough to say we test.”

Mandatory testing for steroids – money for nothing?

In June 2007, local state Rep. Don Trahan passed a resolution mandating the Louisiana High School Athletic Association to do two things – to submit a report reviewing its policy on drug testing and to conduct a survey to determine the potential needs to test for anabolic steroids.

The survey, which many considered as unscientific, provided that steroid abuse is a minimal problem around the state. Now, with the recent steroid bust in St. Landry Parish, that problem could be addressed sooner than later.

Louisiana State Rep. Rickey Hardy feels that it is time to implement a system of steroid testing in his Louisiana.

Currently, the three states that invoke mandatory steroid testing in high schools are New Jersey, Texas and Illinois. Florida is may follow suit but currently suspending its testing program due to budget cuts.

The University Interscholastic League in Texas has tested more than 10,000 students this past spring. The testing resulted to only two positive tests, eliciting criticisms from some sector.

The program, many say, is just a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Tuesday 12, Aug 2008

  High school athletes’ rampant use of steroids – p1

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steroids-schoolHigh school athletes’ rampant use of steroids – part 1

The statistics surprised many. It looks like high school athletes in Louisiana are not only scoring points on the board, but scoring on steroids as well.

This is the unexpected finding of the recent undercover operations conducted by the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Department. The seven-month sting operation targeted gyms in Opelousas, Eunice and Krotz Springs and yielded arrest of four suspected steroid distributors and identification of more than 100 users. Among the users were a couple of high school athletes around the area of St. Landry Parish.

“It really surprised me that we had that much of a problem in St. Landry Parish with illegal steroid use,” said parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz. “I’m really surprised that it’s that big. Now that we’re fully into the investigation, we’re certainly gathering some good intelligence and identifying more users.”

“We don’t know that number,” Guidroz said. “We are still in the identification process. (Steroid abuse among high school athletes) concerns me as a sheriff. If we do have a problem with high school athletes, we’re certainly going to bring it to a head.”

Because the investigation is still ongoing, Guidroz refused to give details on the number of number of high school athletes involved, or what schools were represented.

Unlike the law enforcement department, however, Darren Strother was not taken aback with the results of the steroid bust.

Statistics don’t lie

In the spring of 1999, Strother did a thesis on the use of steroids in high school athletics and gathered an alarming data. In his poll of football players at eight high schools in Acadiana area, 28 percent admitted to either using steroids or having tried performance-enhancing drugs at some point.

“I think it was a problem when I did my thesis, and it’s obviously still a problem now,” said Strother, who is now a doctor and currently works as a clinical neuropsychologist in Lafayette. “When I did my thesis, I never set out to prove there were a lot of people doing it. I was more interested in the mindset of an athlete who does steroids.

“I knew I was going to get numbers, but I didn’t think I would get as many people to admit to it. I was surprised, because it was far more than I thought, but each time something like this has come up, it’s pretty consistent. I think, for a while, people have underestimated how widespread this is.”

Harold “Butch” Woolfolk is not one of those people who underestimate steroid use amongst young athletes.