Texas Set to Dump Steroid Testing for HS Athletes After Seven Years and 40 Positive Tests

Texas High School athletes shouldn't be tested for steroids any more, the state's Sunset Commission says, because the state's "steroid testing program is no longer effective."

Since 2008, the year the program started, it has confirmed 40 positive tests -- less than one-half of 1 percent of all students tested. It's cost the state almost $10 million. According to the commission, Texas is one of only three states currently testing high school athletes for steroids.

Changing attitudes and the Texas Legislature are responsible for the committee's recommendation that the state's high school sports governing body, the University Interscholastic League, shut down the program.

"Since the program began, changing attitudes in Texas and nationally toward steroid use have resulted in reduced use among teens. Additionally, the Legislature has reduced funding for the program each biennium, resulting in fewer tests being conducted and diminishing the program's deterrent effect," it says.

The state will save $500,000 a year by ending the program, according to the committee.

Don Hooton -- whose son Taylor's 2003 suicide was linked to steroid use -- was one of the chief proponents of the Texas testing plan, but he admitted to The Associated Press that the state's program was a failure.

"I believe we made a huge mistake," Hooton said. "Coaches, schools and politicians have used the abysmal number of positive tests to prove there's no steroid problem," Hooton said. "What did we do here? We just lulled the public to sleep."

Advocates for continued testing say that the low number of positive tests stems from holes in the way the UIL administers them. The tests account for too few drugs and are too easy to dodge, they say.

Travis Tygart, head of the U.S. Anti-Doping agency, lamented the Sunset Commission's recommendation the AP.

"They're willing to spend ($60) million building one high school football stadium, but can't find a fraction of that to protect the health and safety of young athletes? Come on," Tygart said. "It's a joke."

The stadium to which Tygart refers, of course, belongs to Allen High School. It's been closed for over a year because of structural cracking.

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young

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