Miami-Dade's New High School Steroid Testing Plan Is a Joke

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Hooton knew from firsthand experience and talking to his son's teammates after his death that there were probably 26 athletes at his Plano high school alone using steroids. What was the problem?

As he talked to experts, including UCLA's Don Caitlin -- the drug-testing pioneer who first nabbed BALCO's notorious "the Clear" steroid -- Hooton realized the truth: Even a well-funded high school testing program was hopelessly overmatched by the science of modern doping.

"Put aside those designer steroids from BALCO and there are 120 or thereabouts types of steroids commonly available on the market," Hooton says. "We were spending about $150 per test in Texas, and that was only enough for a panel that could ID a grand total of ten types of steroids."

What's more, student-athletes are rarely required to pee in a cup with a supervisor watching -- a minimum standard on the Olympic and professional levels that ensures samples aren't tampered with. So even if an athlete is unfortunate -- or stupid -- enough to take a steroid within the short time period a basic test might catch him, most high schools can catch only a tiny minority of cheaters.

In the meantime, Hooton saw the downside of this weak testing. As the Texas program faltered -- with less than 1 percent of kids failing tests annually -- coaches and administrators became increasingly convinced there was no problem. Education programs were neglected, and conversations about steroids in high school ended.

So Hooton changed his mind. He now argues vehemently against high school testing. Major-league sports spend millions to test athletes, and still the majority of Bosch's clientele never failed while on his regimen. What hope does an underfunded high school system have? After five years of testing -- 62,892 tests with only 190 positive results -- Texas officials have come to agree; a state commission recommended just this month that the program be ended.

Yet Miami-Dade is now ready to step into the same game with only $73,000 to begin testing. Still, the motivation for Carvalho's move is understandable, given the evidence in Bosch's criminal case.

In a sworn statement to federal prosecutors, Bosch admits to selling drugs such as steroids and human growth hormone to at least 18 minors. He also ran a side business in the Dominican Republic that concentrated on doping baseball prospects as young as 12 years old. He also treated high-schoolers in the Coral Gables clinic.

Two prominent youth coaches also appear in Bosch's records. Tommy Martinez, a longtime high school baseball coach who runs an academy based in western Broward County, and Benny Fragala, who runs a basketball camp at the Hank Kline Boys & Girls Club, just off South Dixie Highway and SW 32nd Avenue. (Both acknowledged being Bosch clients but denied providing steroids to any athletes. Martinez says Bosch helped him with weight problems, while Fragala says he went to the unlicensed doctor for help with an Achilles tendon injury.)

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink