October 6, 2014
NJ Gov pushing for more HS Steroid testing
Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex) signed the executive order to implement New Jersey’s steroid-testing program in 2006 when he was acting governor, making the state the first in the country to test high school athletes for performance-enhancing drugs. And in light of the arrest of Sayreville High School defensive coordinator Charles Garcia, who faces a third-degree steroid possession charge after being pulled over in Somerset County last week with two sealed boxes of steroids and 14 syringes in his car, Codey said the Sayreville football players should be screened and the state needs to expand its testing program. “It’s too early to say exactly what went down, but it doesn’t look good for the coach, it doesn’t look good for the program,” Codey said. “They need to resolve this one way or another [and determine] whether or not he was providing performance-enhancing drugs to that team — to clear the kids and to clear the program.” On Friday, Jack DuBois, an assistant director in-charge of football at the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, said the association does not have the authority to step in and test the Sayreville players. The NJSIAA tests 500 total athletes from several different sports per school year, and only athletes who individually or with their teams advance to state championship events.
Sayreville Superintendent of Schools Richard Labbe would not say Friday whether there’s any indication Garcia sold steroids to players. He also declined to say if the Sayreville players would be tested before the team plays again.Sayreville’s football games were cancelled this weekend, and Labbe hinted more could be missed. “As soon as we learned of that arrest, (Sayreville principal Jim) Brown and the Sayreville Police Department launched an immediate investigation,” Labbe said. “Now, if that investigation were to demonstrate that there was the slightest possibility of [players using steroids], then we would take certain measures to ensure of that. But that investigation is ongoing as well.” Codey, meanwhile, said he would like to test more high school athletes at different times. His sentiments have been echoed by NJSIAA Executive Director Steve Timko, who recently said the NJSIAA needs to test more athletes throughout the school year. Over the course of 2013-14, the NJSIAA tested 495 athletes from 78 schools and 12 sports. Three athletes tested positive. For comparison, during the 2012-13 school year, there was only one positive test out of 510 athletes screened. “I have no problem with them randomly during the season testing,” Codey said. “I would like to do more. But as long as we increase the number of tests and we’re still coming back with close to 90-something percent negative, I wouldn’t want to do it on a grand scale.” The problem with expanding the program, Codey and Timko said, is funding. Annually, the NJSIAA matches a $50,000 stipend from the state for the steroid testing. Timko said the recently cash-strapped NJSIAA has sought donations for the testing from the NFL, MLB and NHL, to no avail. Codey, meanwhile, said he would explore ways to expand the testing. “We can try to put it in the budget,” he said. “We’re talking about maybe another $50,000, $70,000. And I think as a result of what the teams are doing now in all professional sports, there’s more awareness by parents and by athletes that it doesn’t pay to do it. But don’t get me wrong: There are still going to be some who do it.”