BILL FILED TO REQUIRE MANDATORY STEROID TESTS FOR HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES
|NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus explains how education, training, and testing can curb the steroid epidemic in Texas high schools. He is joined (L-to-R) Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Senator Kyle Janek, and activist Don Hooton.|
(AUSTIN) — Lt. Governor David Dewhurst appeared Wednesday with Senator Kyle Janek of Galveston to announce legislation that would implement random steroid testing for all athletes in Texas governed by the University Interscholastic League. Dewhurst said that it is estimated that 42,000 high school athletes have used performance-enhancing drugs, and that many of them are unaware of the health risks associated with steroids. Senate Bill 8, sponsored by Janek, would require all UIL athletes to agree to submit to a random drug testing program, and it would also implement a training program for coaches so they can teach their teams about the dangers of steroids.
Janek said in addition to serving as a deterrent, random testing will give us a complete picture as to the level of steroid use in Texas. "We anticipate a large enough sample that we get a much better picture of the prevalence of steroid use in this state," he said. Janek added that the bill leaves the administration of the program and sanctions up to the UIL, but he said he intends that tests be administered at 30 percent of high-schools each year, covering between 3 and 6 percent of all Texas athletes.
The state will supply the money to districts to pay for testing, which Dewhurst says will run between $2.2 and $4 million per year. He says the cost of the program is off-set by the possibly life-saving message this program sends to high school athletes. "I think mandatory, random sampling will send a chilling effect to all of our high school athletes: don't use steroids in Texas," he said.
Also Wednesday, Governor Rick Perry and lawmakers from both houses announced a measure that would create a three-billion dollar cancer research fund in Texas. Senate Joint Resolution 43 would give voters the chance to decide whether to create the Texas Cancer Research Institute, which would send about $300 million a year to research universities and institutions. Perry thinks this could be a historical moment in the long, hard fight against cancer. "Finding the cure for cancer, and doing everything we can as a state and as private citizens, this could be our crowning moment," he said.
Senator Jane Nelson of Lewisville, who is carrying the measure in the Senate, says a state sponsored plan would bring major stakeholders in the cancer research and treatment together and allow them to pool resources and experience. "For the first time in history, we have the opportunity to bring together all of those individuals and all those organizations that are working to fight cancer in our state, and we can move forward together under this new umbrella this legislation creates," she said.
Perry first announced his plan for a cancer research endowment in his State of the State address, but many lawmakers balked at his suggestion to sell the lottery to pay for it. This measure uses general obligation bonds, rather than selling the lottery, to create the fund. Perry said that while there may be some disagreement over the best mechanism for funding, the goal is the same for everyone: find a cure for cancer.
The Senate will reconvene Monday, March 12 at 1:30 p.m.