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Steroids: Still not a problem in the schools

At least, as far as our ridiculous and expensive steroid testing og high school athletes program can tell, we don’t have a problem.

More than a year has passed since the state implemented one of the world’s most ambitious steroids testing programs at Texas high schools. The results so far: $6 million spent to test 45,193 student athletes, 19 of whom came up positive.

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s a 0.04% positive rate. Every professional sport in the world wishes they could say the same for its participants.

That last number, depending on your perspective, either refutes the need for testing or validates it as a successful deterrent.

“We have a program that proved it worked by virtue of the fact that so few kids were caught doing steroids,” said Don Hooton, founder of the Plano-based Taylor Hooton Foundation, which raises steroids awareness. “For those that are making the argument that it proves we don’t have a steroid problem is dangerously naive.”

Critics don’t dispute that performance-enhancing drugs are a problem, but they question whether random testing is the solution.

“It’s really expensive, it’s a hassle, and it doesn’t seem to do very much,” said Dr. Diane Elliot, a professor of medicine who conducted a 2007 study on random drug testing at the Oregon Health and Science University.

Officials from local school districts chosen for state testing last year said they considered the program to be effective as a deterrent, but none reported a single positive test.

I’ve noted the weird logic of those who claim that the testing program must be a deterrent because it isn’t catching anyone before. There are some arguments you just can’t win. Happily, we’ll be spending less money on this foolishness next year. And we’ll probably get about as many positive tests as before as well.

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