Proposal suggests nixing ‘ineffective’ UIL steroid testing

AUSTIN (KXAN) — During a hearing for the University Interscholastic League Tuesday morning, Sunset Advisory Commission staff recommended discontinuing steroid testing for athletes.

On top of saying that the testing isn’t effective, Sunset Commission officials say the move would save the state $500,000.

Amid other recommendations or talking points, the Commission asked questions and was looking into a consideration about UIL leaving the University of Texas umbrella where it was founded 100 years ago and become its own state agency.
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A possible UIL change is to randomly drug test athletes for other drugs than just steroids, similar to what the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, tests. The cost for that could be $4.1 to $5.7 million a year.

The current steroid-testing program is reportedly not effective because officials contend steroid use among teens is on the decline and that schools need to cast a wider net to test for other drugs.

According to UIL officials, steroid testing results for the 2012-2013 year included 3,122 boys and 229 girls across 201 schools.

The testing of 3,351 students yielded only nine results positive for steroids. That’s 0.003 percent, rounded up.

Still, Rep. Richard Raymond says discontinuing the random steroid testing sends the wrong message to teens about drug use.

2012-13 steroid testing results

  • 3,122 boys tested across 11 sports
  • 229 girls tested across 10 sports
  • 201 schools involved
  • 9 positive tests for steroids, or 0.003 percent, rounded up

2008-09 steroid testing results

  • 22,435 boys tested
  • 12,642 girls tested
  • 15 positive tests for steroids, or 4.276 percent

Heart screening proposal

IN-DEPTH: Heart Screenings

One in 500 teen athletes has from Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, or HCM, the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in teens. The condition can be asymptomatic and is often only diagnosable through heart screenings.Several organizations in Central Texas offer free heart screenings for athletes including Championship Hearts Foundation and Heart Hospital of Austin.Upcoming screenings

  • Championship Hearts Foundation — June, July, August, September Appointment required, more info
  • Heart Hospital of Austin — August Appointment required, More info

Having lost his son Cody, a star high school football player, to a heart defect two years ago when he was getting ready to start fall football workouts, Scott was set to testify Tuesday at the Capitol’s Sunset Advisory Commission hearing on UIL.

Since Cody’s death, Scott has been advocating for mandatory heart screenings of Texas high school athletes — a $15 test that would have probably saved his life. The UIL opposed Scott’s efforts in the Legislature last session to require the screenings.

The test is also one that likely saved the life of former Baylor Bear center and NBA prospect Isaiah Austin, “who saw his dreams of playing in the NBA abruptly come to a halt this week,” according to ESPN.

“A predraft physical found that Austin has Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder in which those who have it are discouraged from taking part in strenuous exercise to avoid overtaxing the heart,” reports ESPN.

About UIL’s Anabolic Steroid Testing Program

Mandated by Senate Bill 8 — passed by the 80th Texas Legislature and now part of the Texas Education Code — this statewide random testing program affects student athletes in grades nine through 12, regardless of sport, gender or participation level.

Beginning with the 2007-08 school year, the UIL has been directed to test a statistically significant number of student athletes in grades nine through 12 at UIL-member high schools.

The selection process of schools and student athletes is random, and selected student athletes are tested for anabolic steroids only. All testing dates will be unannounced, in keeping with the nature of the random steroid testing process.

About the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission

Sunset answers a basic question for the Texas Legislature: Are an agency’s functions needed, and if so, how can the agency work better and save money for Texans?

About 130 entities are subject to Sunset review, with 20-30 going through the Sunset process every two years.

According to its website, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission is a 12-member legislative commission tasked with identifying and eliminating waste, duplication, and inefficiency for more than 130 Texas state agencies. The Commission questions the need for each agency, looks for potential duplication of other public services or programs, and considers new and innovative changes to improve each agency’s operations and activities. The Commission seeks public input on every agency under Sunset review and recommends actions on each agency to the full Legislature. In most cases, agencies under Sunset review are automatically abolished unless legislation is enacted to continue them.

The Sunset process has streamlined and changed state government. Since Sunset’s inception in 1977, 79 agencies have been abolished, including 37 agencies that were completely abolished and 42 that were abolished with certain functions transferred to existing or newly created agencies. In addition, the Legislature has enacted a large majority of the Sunset Commission’s recommendations. For example, on the agencies reviewed by Sunset for the 83rd Legislature in 2013, the Sunset Commission adopted 96 percent of Sunset staff’s recommendations, and the Legislature adopted 75 percent of the Commission’s recommendations.

The fiscal impact of Sunset recommendations over time has been estimated through fiscal notes that accompany Sunset legislation. Estimates from reviews conducted between 1982 and 2013 indicate a 31-year positive fiscal impact of approximately $945.6 million, compared with expenditures of $37.2 million for the Sunset Commission. Based on these figures, every dollar spent on the Sunset process has earned the State approximately $25 in return.

More detailed discussion of the Sunset Commission is available in the Sunset In Texas report.

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