TRENTON — Legislation sponsored by Senator Richard J. Codey that would strengthen New Jersey’s efforts to combat steroid use by student athletes cleared the Senate today. The bill codifies elements of the executive order Codey signed as governor in 2005 — such as random testing — and expands on recommendations by a task force formed during the same year to include greater emphasis on education and on the role of coaches.
“We must give New Jersey’s student-athletes all of the resources and support they need to just say no to using steroids and performance-enhancing supplements that not only amounts to cheating, but also can lead to serious medical complications later in life,” said Codey (D-Essex, Morris). “Coaches are role models and mentors, and they are best positioned to teach about the dangers of steroids and identify abuse early and help put a stop to it.”
The bill, S-1857, 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. Executive Order No. 72, issued by Codey in 2005, already required the random testing.
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 emphasize healthy nutrition and exercise, warn students about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse and 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 athletes drug free.
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. 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.
The legislation would establish “Steroid Awareness Week” in schools as a week in September to educate the 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. 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.
“We know that when athletes are informed, they make better choices about their health. Too often, student-athletes are only thinking about today and can’t recognize the long-term consequences of steroid abuse, so it’s imperative that we do our best to bring those issues to light,” said Codey. “Also, by expanding the outreach inside all schools across New Jersey, we’re helping all students to make better decisions for themselves and their futures when it comes to steroid and supplement use.”
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 36-0, and now heads to the Assembly.