Posted on February 18, 2010 at 12:15 AM
Thursday, Feb 18 at 4:20 PM
DALLAS - Steroid testing of high school athletes in Texas may soon become a thing of the past next year.
The Texas Education Agency is facing a 5 percent budget cut by the state and to help meet that goal, testing high school kids for drugs will be one of 30 programs affected.
"Well the good news is they haven't made the final decision yet," says Don Hooton, an anti-steroid activist. "We would be and are extremely disappointed that we would consider removing what has been a great deterrent."
Hooton, who lost his son Taylor and now oversees the Taylor Hooton foundation, says he will do all he can to keep the program alive. "What's the life of a child worth. And if it's not the life, it’s the long term health of our kids that are mixed up with these drugs, and it's hard to put a price tag on that," Hooton says.
Gerald Brence, the athletic director for the Plano Independent School district, hopes the testing will continue as well. "It wasn't perfect," Brence says. "There were some issues about it, but overall, I think the studies showed that it was very productive. I personally would like to see it stay but I understand the situation with the state of Texas."
Since the program began two years ago, more than 45,000 students have been tested with only 19 positive results. While the number is small, it’s the deterrent that the testing has created that Hooton says is important.
"The uneducated citizen or administrator would read these results and come to the conclusion that they want to come to that we don't have a steroid problem and that's a mistake," says Hooton.
The drug testing will continue if the legislature decides not to accept the TEA's recommendation, but as of right now, it's on the list of items to be cut.
Hooton says, "One of the examples that we use would be of an inner city school that had a gun violence problem and they put up metal detectors around the school. A year went by and the violence problem had gone away. Would any reasonable administrator come to a conclusion that it's time to take the metal detectors down? Well, of course, not because the problem is going to come right back and we believe that's what's happened here."
A spokesman for the TEA says they're not sure when the legislature will adopt the cuts.