Steroid testing has always been about sending a message

I was very pleased to read The Dallas Morning News’ editorial blog supporting the value of steroid testing in the State of Texas. Micheal Landauer, the author of this editorial, “gets it”. He clearly understands that the primary value of the testing program is in the deterrent effect that it has on kids. And that this program is working!

Don

Dallas Morning News, 8/21/2009

Today’s news story
says that some people are questioning the high school steroid testing program because only 19 kids have been caught using steroids. Another 130 or so have more or less been caught by virtue of skipping the testing and accepting the punishment for a failed test. Is that worth millions of tax dollars?

Well, conservatives looking for budget cuts said no and slashed the budget for testing, but I think the message has been sent and as long as we continue some level of testing, kids will know that they may get caught. Another way to look at this is that far more high school students in Texas have been caught and punished than Major League Baseball stars, and it seems like we get a teary-eyed press conference on that level every few months.

The point is that we cannot just look the other way from cheating. It costs millions of dollars to screen athletes, and the hope is that none will be caught. But one year’s statistics aren’t the point. It’s about sending the message to kids that we’re watching, not just to catch them, but to keep them safe.

The story doesn’t say, but how many steroid-related cases of depression and suicide were reported this year? Maybe that’s unkowable. Maybe the impact overall is unkowable. Keep testing.

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