Nikki Steinwart helps give people the tools to run a clean race working at the Springfield Running Center, but when she was a student athlete there was temptation to skip ahead.
"I think a lot of people do think about the fact it would be so much easier if you could just take something or use something and all of a sudden you're the best,” Steinwart said.
Steinwart says pressure to succeed from coaches and parents and the availability of steroids and stimulants makes a hard-to-resist temptation for some athletes.
"You can easily find things to use," she said.
Now studying nursing in college, she's learned about things never advertised or taught in school about steroids.
"The negative side effects, like the hormone changes and the physical changes, the negative ones that will occur after you stop using or after you've stopped using for 'x' amount of time,” Steinwart said, “you don't hear about that."
Ball-Chatham Athletic Director Dan Rourke said his athletes face a full-court press from performance enhancers.
"They get a lot of those things pushed at them, advertisements to gain weight, get bigger, and get stronger,” Rourke said.
The Illinois High School Association provides training for coaches about steroids. As a football coach, Rourke teaches his kids one valuable lesson.
"Our philosophy is that nothing takes the place of hard work,” he said.
For athletes like Steinwart, avoiding steroids involved one key factor.
"If I were to take something illegal or cheat or do something like that,” Steinwart said, “I just don't think I'd have that sense of satisfaction."
For the past five years, the IHSA has conducted random drug testing of athletes. Since the policy’s inception, only two athletes have tested positive and faced disciplinary action.
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