FORT WORTH (AP) — With a contractor still not in place to run a $3 million mandate to randomly test high school athletes for steroids, a top University Interscholastic League official said Monday the program likely won't be ready for the start of football season.
But UIL athletic director Charles Breithaupt said he was confident that testing football players — whom the new law undoubtedly targets most — would begin at some point this fall.
Public high schools start football practice Aug. 6 and play their first games Aug. 30.
“I don’t think we want to rush it that quickly,” Breithaupt said. “But we don't want to skip football season. I think anyone who wants us to be cautious would say, ‘If you don't test in football, you don’t have a valid test.’”
Fourteen contractors submitted bids to the UIL to run what will be the nation’s largest random steroids testing program. The deadline for bids ended Friday, and UIL officials said a committee will now sort through the submissions in a process expected to take several weeks.
Who will serve on the committee has not been determined, UIL spokeswoman Kim Rogers said.
Steroids testing is among the hottest topics this week at the annual Texas High School Coaches Association meeting, where about 10,000 coaches from across the state are attending workshops and lectures. Among the biggest concerns are dietary supplements like protein powders causing positive readings and the appeals process for athletes who test positive.
A positive test mandates a 30-day suspension on the first offense.
Breithaupt said the UIL is still trying to determine whether suspended students should pay for the retesting necessary to be reinstated. Processing a urine sample for anabolic steroids can cost as much as $200.
State Sen. Kyle Janek, R-Houston, who authored the steroids bill signed by Gov. Rick Perry last month, did not intend to place a financial burden on students, Breithaupt said.
Breithaupt said the UIL, the governing body of Texas public school sports, originally intended to make suspended student pay for retesting but is now talking with Janek.