After Tony Bosch and a slew of his associates were arrested in connection with providing steroids to MLB players as well as high school athletes on Tuesday, the Miami-Dade School Board introduced a steroid testing pilot program that is slated to begin during the 2014-15 school year.
District superintendent Alberto Carvalho acknowledged that the program will cost around $73,000. A vendor that has not been made known yet will front the money for the testing. Between the many high school athletes in the district and the cost of the tests, Carvalho and his colleagues are hoping to add private sponsors to fund the project.
Bosch's signed sworn statement acknowledging that he provided performance-enhancing drugs to 18 South Florida high school boys, aged 15 to 17, among other former Miami-area stars like Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, was one of the driving factors behind this project being pushed to the forefront, but this isn't the state's first rodeo in an effort to combat steroid use at the high school level. After the stunning details of Bosch's operation broke last year, the Florida High School Athletics Association passed two bylaws:
1) suspending student-athletes who use HGH, steroids or other PEDs and 2) suspending any coach or school representative who facilitates or condones such behavior. However, the FSHAA has yet to prescribe any sort of statewide testing program.
The board's executive director Roger Dearing believed there were six school districts that promoted random testing. However, there are some red flags surrounding this move. For one, each costs between $63 and $87, which Dearing called "awfully expensive," and they only test through urine samples, not blood tests, which is the same problem the NFL has. Urine samples do not discover human growth hormones nearly as readily as blood tests do.
Still, if what has been achieved in the past can transpire to the current age, Florida high school sports will be a clean game, or at least very close to it. In 2007, the Florida Legislature adopted a similar steroid testing pilot program, involving 600 random tests across five sports and 53 schools. The results? Only one positive test.
“Ninety percent of our reports come in anonymously,” Dearing told the Miami Herald. “When we get that, we send it to the school principal and athletic director. State statutes give school principals the right — if there is a reasonable suspicion that illegal drugs are being used — to demand that student-athlete get tested.“ The school doesn’t have to pay for the test. They can call the parent and say this guy isn’t going to play football anymore until we get a clean drug test to us.”
Becoming the first state to test high school athletes in 2005, New Jersey turned in some stellar results when they tested for steroids in 2012-13. Of the 270,123 high school athletes in the state, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association revealed that 510 were tested and represented 105 schools and 11 sports. The outcome was identical to Florida's: a mere one positive test.
Dearing anticipates a lottery process to determine the day, week, school and classroom that will be selected to be tested.
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