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Little League Baseball to Create Drug-Education Program

Little League Baseball is developing an educational program for coaches and volunteers about the dangers of performance-enhancing-drug use, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

The initiative, which Little League hopes to unveil by the start of the 2014 season, will be created in conjunction with the Taylor Hooton Foundation. The Texas-based philanthropy was founded in 2004 in honor of Taylor Hooton, a former student-athlete who took his own life after using steroids.

The announcement came on the heels of Major League Baseball's latest round of PED-related suspensions, which saw 12 players earn 50-game bans and Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees suspended through the 2014 season (211 games in total). Rodriguez has appealed his suspension; the other 12 players have accepted theirs without appeal.

"This is a teachable moment," foundation president Don Hooton told the AP in a phone interview. "Every parent, every coach should take the opportunity of all these suspensions to sit down and talk to your kids about why they shouldn't be involved in performance-enhancing drugs."

After Rodriguez's first PED-related suspension in 2009, he began working with the Hooton Foundation to help dissuade youths from using similar substances. Upon hearing about his latest suspension, the foundation cut all ties with him.

While Major League Baseball's PED problems have attracted most of the spotlight, youth PED use is emerging as a larger problem, too. The Miami Herald reported last month that high school athletes were among the clients of Biogenesis, the clinic at the center of MLB's latest PED scandal.

In the aftermath of that story, the executive director of the Florida High School Athletic Association called on the organization's Sports Medicine Advisory Committee to review its existing policies regarding PED use.

Only days later, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that more than six dozen South Florida high school students or recent graduates said they used hormones or steroids for strength-building, or knew others who had.

A survey commissioned by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, released back in May found that fewer than one in five adults believe steroid use to be a major problem among high school student-athletes.

Two surveys released earlier this summer, however, found that more than three-fourths of young U.S. males feel that PED use in professional sports puts pressure on young athletes to use similar substances.

Little League President Stephen Keener told the AP that the recent surveys served as inspiration for the organization's new PED-education program.

"What was discovered ... was a huge amount of ignorance on the subject among parents and even coaches at the high school level and below," Keener said to the AP. "As an organization that is interested in the development of children beyond the game ... perhaps we have some obligation to educate parents and Little League coaches."

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