In 2008, Texas implemented a statewide steroid-testing program that experts believed to be the nation’s most comprehensive, carrying a two-year, $6 million budget. Seven years later, that program could be on its last legs.
“After spending $10 million testing more than 63,000 students to catch just a handful of cheaters, Texas lawmakers appear likely to defund the program this summer,” Jim Vertuno of the Associated Press reported March 20. If Texas does ditch its steroid-testing program, New Jersey and Illinois would be the lone states still testing their student-athletes for steroids.
Under the program, all of the state’s 700,000-plus public school student-athletes were initially eligible to be randomly chosen and forced to give a urine sample. However, according to Vertuno, the state’s first 19,000 tests uncovered just nine positive results, along with an additional 60 “protocol violations.” Of the 2,083 student-athletes tested for steroids in the fall of 2010, only one returned a positive result and another turned up as a protocol violation.
Texas legislators originally put the program on the potential chopping block in 2011, with the state House of Representatives’ first draft budget cutting the program’s funding entirely. However, the state legislature wound up agreeing on a budget bill that maintained roughly $1.5 million for student-athlete steroid tests over the following two years.
In a May 2014 report, the state’s Sunset Advisory Commission recommended discontinuing the statewide program, citing its cost and diminishing effectiveness. The program, which has cost the state nearly $10 million, has uncovered just 40 positive tests—"less than one-half of 1 percent of all students tested,” according to the
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.