Texas picks company to run massive steroids testing program


AUSTIN, Texas -- The company that conducts drug testing for the
NCAA, minor league baseball and other sports leagues has been
chosen to run Texas' massive high school steroids testing program.

The National Center For Drug Free Sport was selected Tuesday to
run the largest steroids testing program in the country, testing
40,000-50,000 public school athletes by the end of the 2008-09
school year.

Testing is expected to begin within weeks, although the
University Interscholastic League, the governing body of Texas
public school sports, declined to say exactly when.

Drug Free Sport competed with 13 other companies for the
two-year, $6 million program. UIL officials said they wanted a
contractor with a proven track record of reliability and expertise.

"We look forward to working closely with Drug Free Sport in
implementing a first-class steroid testing program that we feel
will be a model for other states and organizations to follow," UIL
athletic director Charles Breithaupt said.

The tests were ordered by the state lawmakers concerned that
young athletes may be taking illegal and potentially dangerous
performance-enhancing drugs.

The Legislature wanted testing to begin before last football
season, but delays over writing the program rules and finding a
contractor pushed it back several months.

"With the testing company now under contract and testing just
around the corner, I believe it will deter young people from
risking their lives by abusing illegal steroids," said Lt. Gov.
David Dewhurst, the Republican who led the charge for testing.

Based in Kansas City, Mo., Drug Free Sport was created in 1999
by Frank Uryasz, who had been the director of sports sciences for
the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Uryasz had developed the NCAA's drug testing program in the
1980s and his company has handled NCAA testing since 1999.

Drug Free Sport tests about 13,000 college athletes annually for
the NCAA and has separate contracts with various leagues and about
200 colleges and universities around the country, spokesman Dan
Regan said.

It also conducts drug testing of high school athletes in New
Jersey and Florida. New Jersey was the first state to conduct
random steroid testing of high school athletes and tested 500
athletes in its first year.

Bob Baly, assistant director of the New Jersey State
Interscholastic Athletic Association, praised Drug Free Sport's
performance in his state.

"Extremely professional. It's not like they haven't done this
before," Baly said. "They handle students very well. We've had no

New Jersey's program, which began in the 2006-2007 school year,
tests students who participate in the postseason and must be
renewed annually.

The Texas program is much broader. Every one of the
approximately 764,000 public school athletes are eligible to be
tested, whether their sport is in season or not.

To select athletes for testing, officials will first randomly
select about 30 percent of school across the state. The schools
provide lists of athletes in all sports.

Agents from Drug Free Sport randomly select athletes from the
list and go to the schools to collect urine samples, which are sent
to labs for testing. Students won't know they will be tested until
they are pulled from class.

Drug Free Sport uses only laboratories accredited by the World
Anti-Doping Agency, Regan said, and there are three in North
America: the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory, the Sports
Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah,
and the lab at WADA in Montreal.

"Drug Free Sport will rely on its vast experience in high
school and collegiate steroid-use prevention in administering a
top-notch program across the state of Texas," Uryasz said.