Vainieri Huttle Bill to Prevent Steroid Use Among High School Athletes Advanced by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) that would create measures to deter the use of steroids and performance enhancing substances among high school student-athletes in the state was approved Thursday by an Assembly panel.

“Student-athletes who turn to steroids to get an edge over the competition may not realize the serious risks they are taking with their health,” said Vainieri Huttle. “Many see their sporting heroes achieve impressive feats with the help of steroids and think it is okay for them to do the same, not understanding how detrimental these drugs can be to their physical and psychological health.”

The bill (A-2699) would implement the recommendations of the December 2005 report of the Governor’s Task Force on Steroid Use and Prevention. The bill would require the Department of Education (DOE) and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) to work jointly to develop and implement, by the 2015-2016 school year, a program of random steroid testing of student-athletes. The bill would appropriate $45,000 to the DOE to fund the testing.

“Young people are impressionable and often engage in risky behavior, believing nothing can go wrong until something does,” added Vainieri Huttle. “Random testing coupled with education is essential if we really want to prevent the use of these dangerous drugs among our student athletes.”

Under the bill, any person who coaches a public school district or nonpublic school interscholastic sport, dance, or cheerleading team must incorporate into the team’s training activities a gender-specific program designed to reduce the use of steroids and performance enhancing supplements, alcohol, and drugs, and to promote healthy nutrition and exercise. The program must have a team-centered design that provides a non-stigmatizing atmosphere and includes gender-specific content to address the risk of substance abuse unique to male and female adolescents. The program developed by the coach must be submitted to the athletic director of the school district or nonpublic school for approval.

The bill also requires the NJSIAA to develop and implement, by the 2015-2016 school year, a steroid and performance enhancing supplement prevention information program for all public and nonpublic high school coaches and athletic directors. The program would establish procedures and protocols designed to: provide coaches and athletic directors with information on the dangers of steroids and performance enhancing supplements; identify the use of steroids and performance enhancing supplements in student-athletes; and effectively incorporate healthy alternatives for strength building into coaches’ training programs.

The bill also requires the NJSIAA to provide anti-steroid and anti-performance enhancing supplement advertisements in any brochure, pamphlet, handout, program, book, or other type of material produced for sale or distribution at a tournament sanctioned by the association. The association may use any existing materials produced by the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey. Under the bill, the Commissioner of Education is charged with ensuring that information and materials about preventing steroid use are available on the Department of Education’s website.

Lastly, the bill establishes the third week in September as “Steroid Awareness Week” in New Jersey and requires school districts to observe this week by organizing activities to raise awareness of the hazards of using steroids and performance enhancing supplements.

The bill was released by the Assembly Education Committee.