TRENTON, NJ — New Jersey is the first state in the nation to take statewide action to address the growing issue of high school steroid use.

In late December, New Jersey's Acting Governor Richard J. Codey signed an executive order that will put into place a program that will randomly test high school teams and individuals qualifying for championship games for steroids beginning with the 2006-2007 school year. The order also calls for the Department of Health and Senior Services to develop and implement a program to randomly test dietary supplement products for sale in New Jersey to detect steroid contamination, and various other orders directing the Department of Education to work with the Department of Health and Senior Services and other agencies to implement a broad range of educational components from the fifth grade level up through high school.

“We've all seen the statistics and read the articles about the impact that steroids are having on kids. This is a growing public health threat; one we can't leave up to individual parents, coaches or schools to handle,” said Codey. “Today, we are putting this plan into action and becoming the first state in the nation to address this problem on a statewide level.”

The executive order was based on recommendations made by a task force that studied the breadth and scope of the problem in New Jersey. The task force divided itself into five subcommittees to address research, education, testing, health/psychological effects of steroids and nutritional supplements and steroids and college athletics. The task force spoke to national experts on the subject, interviewed high school students, organized a statewide educational summit for coaches and athletic directors and had public hearings to gain additional input.

Other recommendations included in the report may require legislative action to implement, the governor's office said. The administration will continue to examine these recommendations in the coming weeks to determine the best course of action. Visit www.nj.gov/steroids/finalreport for a full copy of the report.