Bartolo Colon, the star pitcher for the Oakland A’s, is the latest baseball star to be suspended from play this year for violating Major League Baseball’s tough drug testing policy. Colon’s August 22 suspension comes just one week after league slapped All-Star Game MVP and San Francisco Giants player Melky Cabrera with a 50-game suspension for using testosterone.

MLB Means Business

Major League baseball players are learning the hard way that the league means business when it comes to cracking down on performance-enhancing drugs. Players who fail a drug test receive a 50-game suspension. The players are tested during spring training and again randomly throughout the season.

Cabrera, who is enjoying a career-making year, likely cost himself a huge payday. The baseball star is set to be a free agent next year and, without the drug suspension, could have secured a lucrative contract. Three of the five major league players suspended this year have come from either the San Francisco Giants or the Oakland A’s. For two teams still recovering from the BALCO scandal fallout, that’s not the press either team expected.

The Problem Does not Start in the Majors…

While baseball may be cracking down on performance-enhancing drug abuse, decades of steroid abuse by superstar players like Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, and Mark McGwire have convinced impressionable high school athletes that testosterone injections are safe. In fact, some high school athletes mistakenly believe performance-enhancing drugs are even necessary for athletic success. An estimated 1 to 3 million Americans have used anabolic steroids. Between 6 and 12 percent of high school males are estimated to have tried steroids, according to a study published in the journal Orthopedics.

Dangers of Abuse

Unprescribed use of steroids is not only illegal but also dangerous. Numerous studies have linked steroid abuse in teenagers to an increased risk of liver toxicity, hypertension, and hormonal imbalance. One of the most obvious signs of steroid abuse is severe acne, along with manic behavior and mood swings.

Thanks to Colon and Cabrera, illegal performance-enhancing drugs are making bigger headlines this fall than baseball’s pennant race – and these headlines are not limited to professional sports. With practice for fall high school sports already underway, parents and coaches need to be extra vigilant in watching out for the signs of steroid abuse on and off the field.

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