I’m fundamentally against the use of state or federal taxpayer funds to finance drug testing for private sports leagues or to finance steroid testing for high school athletes. I am not necessarily against the idea of drug testing for high school athletes. But I am against the type of “feel-good” drug-testing policies that do little to eliminate the use of performance enhancing drugs by teenage athletes.
The Texas University Interscholastic League (UIL) selected theas the private company to administer the mandated by Texas State Senate Bill 8. Texas is paying Drug Free Sport $5.6 million to administer steroid tests 40,000-50,000 high school athletes. According the UIL :
The UIL has been directed to test a statistically significant number of student-athletes in grades 9-12 at approximately 30% of UIL member high schools. The selection process of schools and student-athletes will be random, and approximately 40,000-50,000 student athletes will be tested for anabolic steroids between this spring and the end of the 2008-09 school year.
UIL Assistant Director and Director of Athletics Charles Breithaupt believes Texas massive testing program should be afor other states!
We look forward to working closely with Drug Free Sport in implementing a first-class steroid testing program that we feel will be a model for other states and organizations to follow.
Why don’t I think this will be effective?
(1) An average of only 3% of student-athletes will beeach academic year. In 2006-2007 school year, 764,581 students participated in athletics which would be subject to steroid testing. While it may be statistically significant, will it significantly deter or reduce steroid use.
(2) Student-athletes in grades 9-12 are“regardless of sport, gender or participation level.” Performance enhancing drug use does not occur equally in all sports, all grades, all genders, and all levels. The likelihood of anabolic steroid use is overwhelmingly more likely in male, varsity level football and baseball. I’m sure there is steroid use by teenage girls and in sports Team Tennis, Cross Country, Volleyball, Swimming & Diving, Basketball, Soccer, Tennis, Golf, Track & Field, Softball. But by diluting the pool subject to testing to include both genders, all sports and freshman, junior varsity, and varsity athletes, it decreases the likelihood that male varsity football and baseball players will be tested, doing little to deter steroid use on the teams where it is most likely to occur.
(3) Less than 400 of the 1300 Texas high schools will be anabolic steroids. It seems probable that information about schools that are tested and schools that are not tested will be readily disseminated.to steroid testing. In other words, 900 high schools or 70% of high school athletes will not be subject at all to random testing for
(4) UIL officials are incompetent; they do not understand the concept of “.” UIL spokeswoman Kim Rogers told the media:
In keeping with the element of surprise and random nature of the testing program, we are not announcing a starting date. If we did, then a student could know when to cycle off steroids or when to begin a new cycle.
Smart. Logical. But practically in the same breath, shethat steroid testing would begin:
…within the coming weeks.
And Patti Ohlendorf, vice president of legal affairs at the University of Texas, steroids” right now just in case.the media that testing would begin in February. The media did their job and reported in newspapers across the state and across the country that testing would begin in a matter of days, weeks, and or in February, effectively telling high school athletes in Texas to “cycle off
(6) It appears steroid testing will only occur during the academic school year. In other words, no testing in summer off-season.
Basically, the probabilities that this steroid testing program will be effective are low. This has nothing to do with the efficacy of the tests or the Center for Drug Free Sports (which I’m sure will competently administer the program and outlined in their contract).
At least it is better thanfor high school athletes. New Jersey only tests athletes whose teams make it to “post-season” competition. Steroid tests are administered randomly to “athletes who have qualified for team or individual state championships.”
Talk about advance notice on when to cycle off anabolic steroids! And to think New Jersey wanted their steroid testing program to be a “model” for the country.
Steroid use by teenagers is a problem. But simply throwing money at the steroid problem will not fix it.