AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas lawmaker who authored a new mandatory random steroid testing law for high school athletes now says the program may not be ready in time for the upcoming football season.
State Sen. Kyle Janek, R-Houston, said the state should consider holding back on testing if concerns about over-the-counter supplements causing positive test results are not satisfied by the fall.
Under the new law, the University Interscholastic League must implement what will be the nation's largest high school steroid testing program in the coming school year. The legislation, however, does not set a firm date.
"We want it up and running this school year, but that doesn't mean it has to be up for the fall," Janek said.
The Senate's original plan was to test at least 22,000 students -- about 3 percent of the 730,000 of high school athletes -- for about $4 million per year.
Janek said the state needs time to either alert parents and students about approved supplements that can trigger positive test results, or find a way to accommodate for the supplements when testing.
Some state officials and drug-testing experts are urging high school athletes to simply avoid nutritional supplements.
"The message should be: 'Don't take supplements at all,' said Jeff Kloster, associate commissioner of the Texas Education Agency. "I believe that we have to do everything we can to get all the education out there as quickly as we can before we start testing."
A study by the International Olympic Committee Sports Nutrition
Working Group has found that nearly one in five dietary supplements sold in U.S. stores was contaminated with chemicals that can cause a positive test.
Mark Cousins, athletic coordinator for the UIL, said that the steroids program would begin in the coming school year.
Cousins said the UIL will include a message about supplements possibly causing a positive steroids test in a promotional DVD being made about the dangers of steroids.
About 130 of Texas' 1,300 public high schools already test for steroids.
New Jersey became the first state in the country to start a statewide testing policy for high school athletes last year. Its initial testing for performance-enhancing drugs among 150 random samples taken last fall didn't produce a positive result, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association reported earlier this year.