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NIDA. (2010, September 13). What do the Washington Redskins, NIDA, and the Greek Gods have in common?. Retrieved from

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Sara Bellum
September 13 2010
Photo of the Washington D.C. Football team
Mike Sellers and Edwin Williams of the Washington Redskins Talked with Students about Steroid Abuse

Many of us have strong opinions about athletes using steroids to short cut their way to being stronger or faster. But it’s not just us—it’s also the 30-plus thousands of coaches and schools who use the ATLAS and ATHENA models in their sports programs.

Exactly what are ATLAS and ATHENA?

  • ATLAS works with young male athletes and stands for Athletes Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids.
  • ATHENA works with young female athletes and stands for Athletes Targeting Healthy Exercise and Nutrition Alternatives.

Together, ATLAS and ATHENA have fast become the most recognized and effective programs for steering young athletes away from steroids and other harmful behaviors. Not surprisingly, NIDA supports and helps fund it. “ATLAS is the only program proven to work against steroid and substance abuse in young male athletes, while ATHENA is the only program proven to work in reducing eating disorders and other health-harming behaviors in young female athletes,” said Doctor Linn Goldberg, the head scientist of ATLAS.

These programs are so effective, that in 2007 the Washington Redskins joined forces with NIDA to help bring them into schools like yours! To spread the word about these programs, the Washington Redskins and NIDA invited students, coaches, and student athletic trainers to FedEx Field on May 3, 2010, for a day of hands-on training on steroid use prevention.

What did we learn about steroids, football, and healthy behaviors? Here are some questions teens from the Washington, DC, metropolitan area asked Mike Sellers and Edwin Williams of the Washington Redskins:

Teens at the event: What do you think about steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs?

Edwin Williams: They don’t make you a better player; they just change your look.  

Teens at the event: Now that we know steroids don’t make an athlete, what do you think it really takes to be a professional athlete?

Mike Sellers: There is no secret ingredient, just determination. And being in great shape lets you heal faster when you are playing sports, which keeps you in the game.  

Teens at the event: What do you eat?

Mike Sellers: What you eat makes you what you are; I try to eat lots of chicken, fish and vegetables.

Edwin Williams: I used to eat soul food like fried chicken, but now I’m eating healthier and using portion control.    

Teens at the event: What motivates you to be healthy and a better athlete?

Mike Sellers: The love for the game!

Teens at the event: Playing high school football requires motivation for both sports and academics. How did you maintain good grades in school?

Mike Sellers: Dedication, you have to be able to absorb lots of information and then take it back to the field.

Edwin Williams: I graduated with a 3.4 GPA, and it was not easy. It’s about time management and working hard. You have to be on top of the game, have determination, self-confidence, be able to multitask and work as hard as you can. Always have a goal.

Want more? See what else the Washington Redskins are doing [link removed] to help families in D.C lead healthier, more active lives.

Want to help? Ask your teacher, coach, or principal about bringing ATLAS and ATHENA to your school, and how you can help.