CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Performance-enhancing drug (PED) use among Tennessee high school athletes is a perceived problem, according to nearly 90 percent of the state’s high school coaches surveyed by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA).

Taken by more than 450 high school coaches of fall sports across the state, the survey is part of BlueCross’ Healthy Competition program. The survey will be administered to coaches of winter and spring sports at upcoming TSSAA rules meetings. In addition, BlueCross is surveying students and parents about PED use via its new Web site, www.HealthyCompetitionTN.org.

“We’re all too aware of the PED and steroid use of professional and Olympic athletes that have been highlighted in recent news coverage,” said Gina Bever, healthy competition program coordinator for BlueCross. “Yet, until now, we haven’t realized the scope of this problem among Tennessee’s young athletes. We believe that surveying high school coaches, parents and athletes is a critical next step.”

Additional survey findings indicate that 54 percent of coaches do not believe their students understand the long-term consequences of using PEDs. Ninety-eight percent of coaches feel that PED education is important in high schools; yet only 65 percent have warned their students about the dangers of PEDs. Seventy-three percent of coaches cited increased strength or speed as the primary factor driving PED use among students.

“This is the first specific information we have received on PED usage in Tennessee,” said Ronnie Carter, executive director of TSSAA. “The data will allow us to not only help entities like the Tennessee legislative steroid subcommittee investigate the issue, but also to better focus our education efforts as we work with BlueCross to address the problem.”

BlueCross’ Web site, www.HealthyCompetitionTN.org, is the latest tool available to combat the growing PED problem. The interactive site features content tailored to coaches, parents and students, including tips for safe and healthy athletic training, warning signs of PED use and advice for parents if they think their children are using PEDs. Visitors can also listen to public service announcements recorded by Tennessee Titans Coach Jeff Fisher and view the initial results of the coaches’ survey.

The Healthy Competition program was developed by BlueCross in 2000 to address the alarming use of PEDs among teenage athletes and their peers and encourage drug-free, safe play by educating young athletes, coaches and parents about the consequences of PED use.

For more information on BlueCross Healthy Competition, contact Gina Bever with BlueCross at (423) 535-6937 or visit www.HealthyCompetitionTN.org.

About Healthy Competition

To address the growing problem of performance-enhancing drug (PED) use among Tennessee’s young athletes, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has developed the Healthy Competition program to encourage drug-free and safe play and educate young athletes, coaches and parents about the dangers of PEDs. For more information, visit www.HealthyCompetitionTN.org.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.