NJ bill expands steroid testing among high school student-athletes

Dino Flammia, New Jersey 101.5

The idea has been knocked down before, more than once, but New Jersey lawmakers are at it again – attempting to make all high school athletes eligible for random steroid testing.

The measure, sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle (D-Englewood), advanced through an Assembly committee on Monday.
Currently, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association has a program in place that randomly tests only student-athletes involved in championship tournaments. With this legislation, testing for the use of steroids and other performance enhancing substances would expand to the regular season, making every student-athlete a potential subject.

Implementing a wider system, though, isn’t cheap, and the measure calls for $45,000 to get the program rolling by the 2017-2018 school year.

According to a NJSIAA spokesman, about 500 student-athletes are currently tested annually.

Education is a big part of the bill as well. Huttle’s measure would require that coaches ensure a portion of their team training is designed to reduce steroid use and promote exercise and healthy nutrition. And the third week in September would be designated as “Steroid Awareness Week.”

“I think it’s important for young students to understand the dangerous side effects of steroid use,” Huttle said. “It’s also about the fairness within sports. Everyone should have an equal, level playing field; they should not have an edge over the competition.”

Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a similar measure in August, citing concerns over additional appropriations outside the normal budget cycle.