From Texas to Florida, States Weigh Student Steroid Testing

steroids

A bulletin issued by the governing body for competition programs in Texas public schools this past summer caught the eye of a key legislator and convinced him that a steroid-testing program for high school athletes should not receive funding again in next year’s session of the Texas Legislature, reports Enrique Rangel for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. The University Interscholastic League (UIL) news release explained:

“Of the 2,633 tests conducted, there were zero (0) confirmed positive results, 10 inconclusive endogenous records, and seven (7) protocol violations, for an unexcused absence at the time the test was administered.” 

A month later, the UIL issued a correction stating that two players did test positive, but the result was insignficiant as far as Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van) was concerned.  The once $3 million program, which was initiated to deter high school athletes from using performance-enhancing substances, had done what it set out to do and would probably be eliminated. Flynn says he will have no regrets.

“Our whole key was to bring the awareness to parents and it has done that,” he said. “And to the students, they know that if you mess up, you are ending your career.

“What we’ve done is educated a number of generations and to the student athletes and we’re very proud of what we did in Texas,” Flynn added.

The Sunset Advisory Commission, which consists of five House members, five senators, and two private citizen appointees, monitors state agencies and then gives recommendations to the Legislature as to whether or not the agency, board, or commission that has been reviewed should continue. The commission stated that the project was not necessary. A staff recommendation also advised to “discontinue the statewide steroid testing program” since it was no longer needed and the cost of the program to the state was $500,000 a year.

“Since the program began, changing attitudes in Texas and nationally toward steroid use have resulted in reduced use among teens,” the 45-page staff report reads before making its recommendation. “Additionally, the Legislature has reduced funding for the program each biennium, resulting in fewer tests being conducted and diminishing the program’s deterrent effect.”

Rep. John Smithee (R-Amarillo) said that the state had bigger issues to be concerned about and better places to spend that amount of money.

This school year in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, student athletes will be randomly tested for drugs. According to Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, the end result will be stopping students’ use of steroids and finding the drug dealers who are exploiting kids.

WQAM’s Cynthia Demos writes that the announcement was released one day after seven people were arrested for pushing performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) at a clinic in Coral Gables.  The Biogenesis Clinic provided PEDs to Major League Baseball (MLB) players and to high school players in the area. The discovery of the clinic’s prolific distribution of PEDs led to the suspension of baseball star Alex Rodriguez.

Carvalho said the timing was a coincidence and the high school athletes investigated were not public school students. The program began when schools opened in August and required that parents consent to the testing. Some parents agreed with the program and felt there was no harm., while others said the testing was an invasion of privacy. At a later date, the testing could expand to middle schools.

Miami New Times’ Tim Elfrink reports that coaches from around South Florida gathered in Doral, Aug. 8, 2014, to attend a presentation on the new athletic rules and regulations. It has become much easier to obtain steroids and human growth hormone (HGHs) in Dade County. Testing is expensive and Miami-Dade has little cash to fund the project, but Carvalho insists on beginning with just $73,000, and has high hopes of raising more funds. The test is given on a regular basis only by a few districts in the state, and each district has its own standards on which the testing is based.

Even nine years after becoming the first state in the country to begin a steroid-testing program for high school players, there are still positive tests, according to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA). Matthew Stanmyre, in a report for Advance Media for NJ, says the range of students who test positive each year has been between none and approximately four. The NJSIAA offers a hotline for parents and students to use to make sure that a supplement they are taking does not contain a banned substance.

“We know that supplements can and do contain banned substances, whether those are anabolic steroids or stimulants,” Frank Uryasz, President of Drug Free Sport, said. “Although there are federal laws that attempt to regulate the content of anabolic steroids in supplements, those laws are loosely enforced.”

Each year, the NJSIAA matches a $50,000 stipend given to the organization by the state for testing for steroids. It randomly tests athletes from 13 sports and only tests regularly those athletes who qualify for the playoffs. This makes it fairly easy for athletes to know when they are going to be tested.