After spending more than $10 million over the past eight years on steroid tests for high school student-athletes, Texas lawmakers voted Friday to end the program.
In the budget proposal sent to Gov. Greg Abbott, lawmakers voted to strip all funding for the program, according to Jim Vertuno of The Associated Press. While supporters defended the program’s existence as a viable deterrent to student-athletes taking steroids, it ultimately resulted in very few positive tests.
Initially, all of the state’s 700,000-plus public school student-athletes were eligible to be randomly chosen and forced to give a urine sample. However, only nine student-athletes tested positive in the state’s first 19,000 tests, according to Vertuno, with an additional 60 “protocol violations.” Of the 2,083 student-athletes tested in the fall of 2010, only one returned a positive result and another turned up as a protocol violation.
State legislators began chopping funding for the program—which initially had a $6 million budget over a two-year span—and even considered eliminating it entirely as far back as 2011. The state legislature wound up agreeing on a budget bill that year that maintained roughly $1.5 million for the program over the following two years, but concerns about the program’s effectiveness remained.
In May 2014, the state’s Sunset Advisory Committee recommended ending the program, citing its cost and diminished effectiveness. “Since the program began, changing attitudes in Texas and nationally toward steroid use have resulted in reduced use among teens,” the commission wrote in its report. “Additionally, the Legislature has reduced funding for the program each biennium, resulting in fewer tests being conducted and diminishing the program’s deterrent effect.”
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.