Deterring steroid use, or misplacing priorities?

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has this thing about steroids. He doesn’t use them, but he won’t give up on the idea of testing high school athletes for possible use. So, consequently, the budget bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee, which cuts $4 billion from public education programs, includes $1.8 million for continued, random steroid testing in high school locker rooms.

This is the same budget bill that was having trouble mustering enough votes to be debated on the Senate floor.

Deterring steroid use among young athletes is a worthy cause, but so are funding libraries, fully staffing classrooms, saving educators’ jobs and keeping neighborhood schools open – all of which would be jeopardized if the Senate budget plan were to become law. Jason Embry outlined many of the cuts in the Austin AmericanStatesman this morning. He also listed the steroid spending in his 50 facts about the bill.

You could save a lot of teacher jobs with $1.8 million, or keep a lot of lowincome school kids on health care.

Dewhurst would argue that the random testing program is a deterrent to steroid use, and it may be. But, according to an Associated Press story that ran about a year ago, only 20 confirmed cases of steroid use had been found among the nearly 50,000 tests that had been conducted up until that point.

Did the prospect of testing deter many athletes from steroid use? Or, was there never a big problem?


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