AUSTIN, Texas — 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.

“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.

“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.”

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

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.

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.

Testing officials aren’t allowed to watch the person providing a urine sample. Privacy for under-age athletes is a potentially huge loophole for cheaters.

State lawmakers have been scaling down the 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.

Mark Cousins of the University Interscholastic League, the state’s governing body for high school sports, said Texas now targets about 60 drugs but the number of positive tests still remains low.

The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, which reviews state programs, recommended in 2014 that lawmakers drop the program. Its report noted that unless the state wanted to pump up to $5 million a year into a program on par with college and pro leagues, it wouldn’t be effective.