WASHINGTON - From athletes to fantasy football players and now former spelling bee champions, the list of people admitting to using performance enhancing drugs keeps growing.
Spelling bee officials have released the names of 20 different spelling bee champions who have tested positive for steroid use.
The news means spelling bee officials will be implementing a stringent drug-testing policy at least a month prior to every event. The policies will be enacted on the local, national and even world level, officials said.
In the last three years, five former spelling bee champions have died because of steroid use, officials said.
"We would have never believed our sport, if you will, would ever see the day performance enhancers would play a part in the success of these word-savvy athletes, " said Harm Jorgensen, a spelling official from Sweden."It is a blow to our sport and indeed a black day for all the athletes who have won these tense competitions legitimately."
The stress of the competitions may be one reason spellers have sought out steroids, said Erin Blanchard, a 2003 spelling bee champion, now 13."I sucked down everything from ginseng to black market liquids and pills, " she said in an interview from her home in Salt Lake City."At the time it was worth it. I spelled better but in the end all it has done is broken my body down."
Seven-year-old Randall Matthews agreed."I juiced last year and won the competition, " the Morganton, N. C. , resident said."Mom and dad were not pleased when they found out and now I am not only banned from the circuit for three years, I didn't get that new Webster's Dictionary I wanted for Christmas."