Taylor Hooton Foundation > Hoot’s Corner > General > NJ is Stepping up efforts to curb student athlete steroid use
July 21, 2014
NJ is Stepping up efforts to curb student athlete steroid use
Richard J. Codey, D-Livingston, former governor of New Jersey, is a state senator representing District 27. NEW JERSEY has been a national leader in the fight against steroid use among student athletes, and it’s now time to double down on our efforts. In 2005, national steroid use among student athletes was reaching record highs, despite warnings that using the performance-enhancing drug could stunt growth, lead to erratic behavior or even death if not taken under a doctor’s orders. In response, as governor, I signed an executive order establishing the nation’s first statewide random steroid testing program for student athletes. A national conversation over the dangers of steroids ensued as a parade of superstar athletes — from Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds to Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong — were associated with using dangerous performance-enhancing drugs. As a result of strong policies and increased awareness of its dangers, steroid use among high school students has dropped. Last year, 3.1 percent of high school students in a U.S. Health Department survey said they took steroid pills or shots without a doctor’s permission once in their lives, down from 6.1 percent in 2003. But the fight is far from over, and we can — and should — do better. I have sponsored a bill that would bolster the state’s efforts at combating steroid use by recognizing the important role coaches play in the lives of our student athletes while strengthening outreach efforts beyond the locker room. The bill has the unanimous support of the Senate and of important school groups, such as the New Jersey School Boards Association. State law First, the bill makes random steroid testing state law, making it harder to repeal and putting the program in a better position to receive additional funding. The good news is that few student athletes in New Jersey — less than 1 percent — are testing positive for steroids. The bad news is that only 500 of the state’s roughly 270,000 student athletes actually get tested because the program lacks adequate funding and must rely on donations if it wants to grow. Financial resources are no doubt scarce, so we must find different ways to teach our students about the harmful dangers of steroids. Who better to turn to than our coaches, who are on the front lines of this battle and serve as important mentors to our young athletes? My bill would require coaches to set up programs to reduce the use of steroids and performance-enhancing supplements. Studies have shown that telling students to simply ‘just say no’ is ineffective, and that’s why my bill requires coaches to introduce athletes to healthy alternatives, such as proper nutrition and exercise. Not only are these drugs dangerous, they tarnish the integrity of the game, and coaches are best positioned to deliver that message. We must support our coaches. That’s why the bill establishes an annual workshop where coaches can come together and learn about the latest trends and strategies in nutrition and steroid prevention. Our efforts can’t stop at the locker room door. Under my bill, the state Board of Education must review its curriculum to ensure that students are being taught in the classroom about the risks of performance-enhancing drugs. Schools would also be required to dedicate one week in September as “Steroid Awareness Week,” where officials will teach students about the dangers of the drug and instruct them on how to read labels on dietary labels marketed for performance enhancement. Advertisements The bill would also require the New Jersey Scholastic Interscholastic Athletic Association to include anti-performance enhancing supplement advertisements in programs and pamphlets handed out during sporting events. The Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse would be required to create anti-steroid posters that would be placed in gyms and locker rooms. In 2005, New Jersey showed the nation how to aggressively combat the steroid problem. It’s time we show them again. – See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/opinion/opinion-stepping-up-efforts-to-curb-student-athlete-steroid-use-1.1051675#sthash.4uzZqAt0.dpuf