It’s been three years since a steroid scandal at the University of Waterloo shone a bright light on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in Canadian university sports.

In total, nine of the school’s football players tested positive for, or admitted to using, steroids.

One player, Nathan Zettler, pleaded guilty to criminal charges and was sentenced to jail time, while the school suspended its entire football program for one season.

Waterloo athletics director Bob Copeland recalls his “gut-wrenching” reaction when he realized how prevalent the drugs were among his athletes.

“It was a media firestorm. People were comparing it to Ben Johnson,” he says.

But a new report released to CTV News shows it’s not just university sports that have been infiltrated by steroids – they’ve even made their way to younger student-athletes.

 “This stuff is happening, and we’re learning that it’s happening right here in our high schools,” says Waterloo Regional Police Sgt. Sloden Lackovic.

Succeed Clean, a joint initiative of local educational institutions, police, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport and the Kitchener Rangers, surveyed 700 local high school students on the subject of performance-enhancing drugs.

One-quarter of the students surveyed claimed to know someone at their school using performance-enhancing drugs, while six students admitted to taking steroids or human growth hormone themselves.

Dr. Doug Dittmer has more than 20 years of experience with sports medicine and practices at the Waterloo Sport Medicine Centre.

He points to research that suggests three per cent of Canadian high school students have used steroids – and a more recent American study that puts that number at closer to six per cent in that country.

Dittmer says steroid use isn’t discouraged only because of the unfair playing field it creates, but also because of the side effects users are often unaware of.

Those side effects include depression, liver damage and increased risk of heart attacks.

CTV’s Meghan Furman is investigating the use of steroids in Waterloo Region high schools in a special series airing this week on CTV News.