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Wednesday, February 18, 2009
 
Not a Problem or Not Enough Money to Fund the Program: Florida Ends HS Anabolic Steroids Testing Program

The Florida High School Athletic Association’s anaboloic steroid testing program, which began in July 2007 for athletes participating in football, baseball and weightlifting, has been put on the back burner, at least for now, due to the economy and the rationale that the money must go elsewhere. In a deteriorating economy, state officials apparently cannot justify spending the $100,000 needed to do the testing (or a cost of $166 a piece). Cristina Alvarez, spokeswoman for the Florida High School Athletic Association, states that in this economy the money must go to the classroom and textbooks. Moreover, of the 600 teens tested randomly at 53 schools, only one steroid user was found.

Testing was only performed on one percent of Florida HS student-athletes. Testing was administered by the National Center for Drug Free Sport, Inc, with samples analyzed at UCLA's Olympic laboratory. Testing was limited to tackle and flag football, boys and girls weightlifting, softball, and baseball, and was random (school randomly picked, thereafter, student-athlete randomly picked). Unlike Illinois' voluntary program, which I discussed on this Blog last January, submitting to this random testing was a prerequisite for membership in the FHSAA under Florida law (2007-192). A student-athlete could opt out of the testing program (no consent given), but then could not participate (practice or competition) in the aforementioned sports. Said student-athlete would be permitted to participate in non-tested sports.

Outside of the cost, reasons given for dropping the testing program is there is no problem at the high school level in Florida ("only one positive test"), it was not comprehensive enough (max out at 1% of student-athletes in grades 9-12), and the recent A-Rod scandal. While I believe the last reason is a throw-away, it certainly does not bode well for additional states to pick-up testing for anabolic steroids or other performance enhancing drugs at the high school level when in the midst of one of baseball's superstars admitting using performance enhancing drugs, his home state (starred at Westminster Christian High School in Miami and signed a national letter of intent to play baseball at "the U") drops testing.

For discussions of legality of such testing, see Board of Ed. v. Earls and Vernonia School Dist. v. Acton.






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