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Texas abandoning steroid testing program

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — When Texas officials launched a massive public high school steroids testing program over fears of rampant doping from the football fields to the tennis courts, they promised a model program for the rest of the country to follow.

But almost no one did. And after spending $10 million testing more than 63,000 students to catch just a handful of cheaters, Texas lawmakers appear likely to defund the program this summer. If they do, New Jersey and Illinois will have the only statewide high school steroids testing programs left.

Even those who pushed for the Texas program in 2007 now call it a colossal misfire, either a waste of money or too poorly designed to catch the drug users some insist are slipping through the cracks.

“I believe we made a huge mistake,” said Don Hooton, who started the Taylor Hooton Foundation for steroid abuse education after his 17-year-old son’s 2003 suicide was linked to the drug’s use, and was one of the key advocates in creating the Texas program.

Hooton believes the low number of positive tests doesn’t mean Texas athletes are clean, only that they’re not getting caught because of inadequate testing and loopholes that allow them to cheat the process.

“Coaches, schools, and politicians have used the abysmal number of positive tests to prove there’s no steroid problem,” Hooton said. “What did we do here? We just lulled the public to sleep.”

Texas wasn’t the first state to test high schoolers. New Jersey and Florida were first and Illinois started about the same time as Texas. But the Lone Star State employed its typical bigger-is-better swagger by pumping in millions to sweep the state for cheaters. At the time, Texas had more than 780,000 public high school athletes, by far the most in the nation. A positive test would kick the star quarterback or point guard out of the lineup for at least 30 days.

Schools across the country closely watched Texas, said Don Colgate, director of sports and sports medicine at the National Federation of State High School Associations.

“Texas was going out in front in a big way,” Colgate said. “(But) it’s not a cheap process and they knew there were not going to do it on the scale of what Texas did.”

New Jersey and Illinois each spends about $100,000 annually testing a few hundred athletes. Florida folded its $100,000 program in 2009.

There were questions from the start whether Texas should go so big.

The University Interscholastic League, the state’s governing body for high school sports, surveyed its member public schools in 2002 and the vast majority said testing should be a local decision. By 2007, headlines of performance-enhancing drug abuse in professional sports and a push from advocates like Hooton prodded lawmakers to forge ahead and they pumped in $6 million for the first two years.

Texas hired Drug Free Sport, which conducts testing for the NCAA, the NFL, Major League Baseball and the NBA, to randomly select students, pull them out of class and have them supply a urine sample. The first 19,000 tests produced just nine confirmed cases of steroid use, with another 60 “protocol violations” for skipping the test.

Few saw those numbers as good news of clean athletes or even as proof the program could be a successful deterrent. Most saw it as fodder for criticism that the state was wasting its money.

And national momentum was ebbing. The economic downturn pinched state budgets. Other health issues, including heat-related deaths and head safety, jumped to the forefront.

Anti-doping pioneer Don Catlin, who spent years conducting the NCAA’s laboratory tests at UCLA, said the Texas plan was well-intentioned but didn’t test for enough drugs in the early years and had gaps in protocols that cheaters could exploit. Texas tested for only about 10 drugs in the first wave, a fraction of the anabolic agents on the market, which Catlin warned would be easy to avoid detection.

Testers also can lose the element of surprise because they have to tell school officials when they’ll be on campus. While that is supposed to be confidential, the news can slip out and UIL has punished schools for violations.

Although students are required to empty their pockets and lift shirts above their waste band, testing officials also aren’t allowed to physically watch the person providing a urine sample. Privacy for under-age athletes is a potentially huge loophole for cheaters.

The testing protocols, including which drugs were tested for, were developed by the UIL and Drug Free Sport.

“The program they developed was bound to fail,” Catlin said. “I told them years ago to put the money into something else.”

State lawmakers have been scaling down the Texas program almost since it began.

It was trimmed to $2 million by 2010 and has continued to shrink to about $500,000 a year. That required testing fewer athletes and targeting specific sports such as football, wrestling and baseball.

UIL Athletic Director Mark Cousins said Texas now targets about 60 drugs but the number of positive tests still remains low. In the 2013-2014 school year, the UIL tested 2,633 students and caught two.

Hooton said those low figures don’t match anecdotal evidence of higher steroid use among teens. A 2014 study by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids found that 7 percent of high schoolers reported using steroids from 2009-2013.

The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, which reviews state programs, recommended in 2014 that lawmakers drop the program. The commission’s report noted that unless the state wanted to pump up to $5 million a year into a program on par with elite college and pro leagues, it wouldn’t be effective either in catching cheaters or scaring them away from drugs.

Travis Tygart, head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that exposed performance-enhancing drug use by former cyclist Lance Armstrong, scoffed at Texas for moving to eliminate its program. He noted Texas cities have been willing to pay millions for state-of-the-art high school football facilities.

“They’re willing to spend ($60) million building one high school football stadium but can’t find a fraction of that to protect the health and safety of young athletes? Come on,” Tygart said. “It’s a joke.”

Signing day is Wednesday, here’s what we know

Here’s what we know for signing day on Wednesday. Let us know if you know of others.

Bainbridge: Celia Story, soccer (Brown); Katherine Pecora, soccer (St. Martin’s)
Central Kitsap: Brion Anduze, football (Arizona); Eric Ledesma, football (Central Washington)
Crosspoint: Desere’e Doty, soccer (Grand Canyon)
North Mason: Daniel Burggraaf, baseball (Army)
North Kitsap: Andrew Hecker, football (Washington State, invited walk-on)
Klahowya: McKenzie Cook, soccer (Grand Canyon); Izzy Severns (Central Washington)
South Kitsap: Hailey Parker, soccer (Westmont College); Drew Camacho, softball (Shoreline CC); Shelby Reyes, softball (Shoreline CC)

 

WIAA releases new proposed amendments

Here’s what’s up for possible rule changes this year.
To me, the two most interesting ones: A rule to make the classification changes every four years. This has been a near-annual rule change that keeps getting shot down by small schools whose enrollments can be impacted by a large family moving into town. This rule change allows for an appeal process after two years. Hope this is enough to get the rule passes. Doing the district/league shuffle every two years is tiresome.

The other amendment that interests me is a change to the transfer rule. This looks like it seeks to make it harder for players to switch schools.

National LOI signing day quickly approaching

National Letter of Intent signing day is just around the corner. On Wednesday, Feb. 4, high school athletes — mostly football players — from around the country will put pen to paper and make their college destinations known.

In Kitsap, there are usually a few football players mixed in with a handful of girls soccer players who’ll hold signing day gatherings.

Crosspoint’s Desere’e Doty, who is heading to Grand Canyon University for women’s soccer, will have a gathering Wednesday at the school. Central Kitsap football player Brion Anduze, who is heading to the University of Arizona, is also planning something for next week.

If you are an athlete or parent of an athlete who is planning a signing day ceremony next week, send us a message at sunsports@kitsapsun.com or call us at 360-792-9200.

 

South Kitsap equestrian team beginning competition

South Kitsap’s first-year equestrian team is competing this weekend at the Tacoma Unit Arena in Spanaway. It’s the team’s first event of the season (competition starts at 7 a.m. Saturday). South Kitsap’s coach is Geri Hildebrand.

South Kitsap High School is now a member of the Washington High School Equestrian Teams (WAHSET) District 4.

South Kitsap has girls competing in a range of events including Showmanship, Trail, Western and English pattern.
Carley Stratton (and her horse Texas) – SKHS Sophomore
Jillian Hulse-Lew (and her horse Knickie) – SKHS Sophomore
Alea Chatman (and her horse Kit) – SKHS Sophomore
Elizabeth Hildebrand (and her horses Marion and Pearl) – Cedar Heights Freshman
Haley Barth (and her horse My Midnight Stroll) –  Cedar Heights Freshman

The full meet schedule and venue directions can be found online.

Saturday postseason updates: NK playing for title

Nk volley
We’ll have all your Saturday playoff updates here.

Volleyball
Top-ranked Tumwater beat North Kitsap 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-11) in the Class 2A state championship match. It was the first time in county history a volleyball team played for the state title.
It was No. 4 North Kitsap’s first loss this season (23-1).

Football
Hockinson 7, North Kitsap 2 (final)

Soccer
Klahowya went on the road and beat La Salle 4-2 to reach the 1A state semifinals next weekend.
In a 4A quarterfinal, Jackson eliminated South Kitsap 2-0.

Swimming
Annette will have all the updates from the state swim meet here.

State brackets for all sports can be found here.

Get your Saturday playoff updates here

Football
Cascade Christian 47, Klahowya 7 (final)
North Kitsap 27, Renton 6 (final)
Roosevelt 26, Central Kitsap 24 (final)

Volleyball
North Kitsap won the 2A district title game, beating Liberty Issaquah in the championship, 3-0.
Klahowya lost its chance at its first state berth, losing to Bellevue Christian and Seattle Christian at home in the 1A district tournament.
Olympic beat Bremerton 3-1 in the 2A districts. The Trojans lost to White River 3-1 in a winner-to-state, loser-out game.
Crosspoint is down to its final chance to advance out of Class 1B Tri-District. They play Providence Classical Christian.

Soccer
Klahowya clinched a trip to state by beating Bellevue Christian 3-0 in district play. Izzy Severns had a hat trick.
North Kitsap lost to Liberty in a shootout (1-1 after overtime) for the district’s top seed.
Olympic beat Fife 2-1 in a shootout to take the district’s fifth seed.
South Kitsap beat Gig Harbor 1-0 in a 4A seeding game.
Central Kitsap beat Enumclaw in a shootout (0-0 after overtime) in a 3A seeing game.
Crosspoint beat Friday Harbor 5-0 in seeding to state.

Cross country
The state meet is going on in Pasco. You can see the results here.
The Central Kitsap boys were fifth, one spot off the podium. The CK girls were 13th.
Port Townsend’s Ryan Clarke, the two-time Olympic League champ, won the 1A title.

High school girls soccer scoring leaders

Here is the final list of girls soccer scoring leaders for West Sound. The statistics reflect regular season totals.

Name, school            Goals    Assists    Points
Desere’e Doty, CA        38        18        94
McKenzie Cook, Kla        26        9        61
Emma Laurion, CA        21        14        56
Izzy Severns, Kla            21        13        55
Kamie Coryell, Bain        21        12        54
Celia Story, Bain            14        11        39
Lauren Hudson, CK        14        10        38
Briann George, NK        13        9        35
Tegan Daviscourt, NM        16        2        34

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This week’s football playoff matchups

Here’s what we know so far:

Tuesday
Olympic League tiebreaker: Sequim, Port Angeles and Kingston at Silverdale Stadium, 5:30 p.m.

Friday
Foster at Olympic, 7:15 p.m
North Mason vs. River Ridge at South Sound Stadium, 7 p.m.
Charles Wright at Port Townsend, 7 p.m.

Saturday
Central Kitsap at Roosevelt at Seattle Memorial, 4 p.m.
Sammamish/Renton winner at North Kitsap, 7 p.m.
Klahowya vs. Cascade Christian at Sunset Chev Stadium, 7 p.m.

Week 10
(non-playoff games)
South Kitsap at Shelton, 7 p.m.
Bremerton at Bainbridge, Friday, 5 p.m.