Texas Governor Rick Perry has signed into law Senate Bill 8, which requires random drug testing of all high school sports participants. The law, which goes into effect this coming fall, gives Texas high schools funding to test approximately 25,000 of the state’s 740,000 athletes over a two-year period.
The testing will be administered by the University Interscholastic League (UIL). So far, the UIL has instituted the penalty structure for students who fail the random test. There is a penalty for first time offenders of a 30 day suspension from the participant’s sport. The second offense would result in a one year suspension, and if a student fails a third test then he or she would be banned from all sports.
In addition to the penalty structure, any student who tests positive for steroids may not return to play until a subsequent test has been taken at the student’s expense and passed.
There are already 127 school districts in Texas which test for steroids. However, Texas is only the second state to mandate testing for all athletes. New Jersey also tests high school students, but only at state championships.
According the The Dallas Morning News, a few UIL council members expressed concern that the penalties are not stiff enough. For example, Kay Waggoner, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD superintendent, proposed that the penalties be applied during competition season only, since a 30-day ban during the off-season, such a football player testing positive in the spring, would not suffer the consequences.
In addition, Curtis Culwell, Garland ISD superintendent, suggest a lengthier ban for first-time offenders. The NCAA’s steroids policy requires a one-year ban after the first positive test. .
The new testing program will be overseen by Cliff Odenwald, former athletic director for the Plano ISD.
More information on the testing will be available once a company has been contracted to perform the tests.