TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Richard J. Codey which would expand New Jersey’s efforts to combat steroid use among students was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 38-0.
“School athletics can be a competitive and rewarding environment for students who participate,” said Senator Codey, D-Essex. “Unfortunately, some of our kids look for shortcuts in their training and follow the bad examples set by a few professional athletes by turning to steroids to enhance their game. We need to give our student-athletes the resources and support they need to just say no to steroids and performance-enhancing supplements which could lead to serious medical complications later in life.”
The bill, S-834, would codify into law a number of recommendations made by the Governor’s Task Force on Steroid Use and Prevention, as well as some of the provisions of the Governor’s Executive Order 72 – both of which were adopted by then-Governor Codey in 2005 to begin to address steroid abuse by younger athletes. The bill would require the Department of Education and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) to establish a program of random steroid testing of student-athletes who qualify to compete in championship tournaments.
It would also require coaches at the public school level and the nonpublic school interscholastic level to set up programs for their teams to reduce the use of steroids and performance enhancing supplements. The programs would also emphasize healthy nutrition and exercise, would warn students about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse – including the health risks of steroid and supplement use and abuse, and would provide students with information and strategies to avoid peer pressure and stay drug free. The NJSIAA would run an annual workshop for all public and nonpublic middle school and high school coaches on steroid and performance enhancing supplement prevention in order to give coaches the most current information and best strategies to keep their athletes drug free.
“Coaches can and should play an important part in teaching their athletes how to compete in their sport in a healthy and safe way,” said Senator Codey, who coaches a travelling basketball team in West Orange. “That means we have more than just an obligation to teach our kids the fundamentals of the game. This bill would engage coaches to work with their athletes to help them live safe, healthy lives, both on and off the court.”
Finally, the bill would expand the State’s public outreach regarding steroid abuse in schools. The bill would require the NJSIAA to include anti-steroid and anti-performance enhancing supplement advertisements in any brochure, pamphlet, program or book distributed or sold at school sporting events in New Jersey. The Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse would be required to prepare an instructional poster which would be displayed in school gyms and locker rooms, warning of the potential health risks of steroids and the penalties for their use and possession.
Through the legislation, “Steroid Awareness Week” would be established in schools as a week in September to educate the general student body about the dangers of steroid abuse and begin discussions on healthy strength-building methods and how to interpret the labels on dietary supplements marketed for performance enhancement. The Department of Education would be required to provide information and materials concerning the prevention of steroid abuse and performance enhancing supplements on its Web site. And the State Board of Education would be required to review core curriculum standards to ensure that students are properly educated about the health risks of anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing supplements.
“Many students first turn to steroids and performance enhances because they only see the immediate results, without taking into account the long-term consequences,” said Senator Codey. “Whether it’s the captain of the football team or the captain of the chess team, all students need to have access to information about steroids and performance enhancing supplements, and the health risks of prolonged use and abuse of these drugs. This bill would create outreach programs for student-athletes as well as the general student population to help our high-school and middle-school students, in all walks of life, stay drug free.”
The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.