NJ Senate OKs steroid testing for students

April 7, 2008 1:48:27 PM PDT
Lawmakers in New Jersey advanced a measure that would add muscle to the policy on student steroid testing. Student-athletes as young as 14 would undergo random tests for steroids under a bill approved in the Senate Monday. Middle school students would receive instruction about steroid abuse. The measure also would require coaches to teach steroid deterrence.

Taken together, the bill's testing, education and prevention components make New Jersey's anti-steroid effort one of the most comprehensive in the nation, said Sen. Richard Codey, the bill's sponsor.

"When a kid grows up idolizing a professional athlete and then finds out that person broke this record or that one because he was using steroids his whole career, well, what's to stop that kid from wanting to use the drugs too?" asked Codey, an Essex County Democrat. "We need to get to our kids early and show them these drugs are not without consequences."

The bill would put the force of law behind a policy adopted two years ago, making New Jersey the first to institute random steroid testing statewide for high school athletes.

Codey, a youth basketball coach and avid college sports fan, got the ball rolling on student steroid use by commissioning a task force to study the issue while he was acting governor. The state scholastic athletic association initiated random steroid testing for high school athletes competing in championship tournaments two years ago, at the recommendation of the task force.

The bill that advanced Monday would make the random drug-testing program permanent.

Other components in the bill include:

  • Public school coaches must implement male- and female-specific programs into their athletic program aimed at reducing the use of steroids, performance-enhancing supplements, alcohol and drugs, while promoting healthy body image, nutrition and exercise.

  • The Governor's Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse will prepare an instructional poster for display in gyms and locker rooms warning of potential health risks of steroids and penalties for their use.

  • The Education commissioner must issue biannual reports compiling the results of student surveys on steroid use.

    The Assembly has yet to take up the proposal.