“Most Ridiculous Program on the Planet”
The program calls for random testing of athletes who qualify for team or individual state tournaments. Each test will cost $150 to $200; the New Jersey high school association and the state each will give $50,000 to cover the bill.
Those who test positive will be penalized with a one-year loss of eligibility.
In Oregon, a nationally renowned steroids expert said that New Jersey's program is severely flawed and "a monumental waste of resources."
"That is the most ridiculous program on the planet," said Dr. Linn Goldberg, a professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University.
Because New Jersey's policy limits testing to postseason tournaments, athletes can easily evade detection by using steroids in planned cycles before and after the playoffs, Goldberg said.
"How is that a deterrent?" he asked. "It isn't, not by any stretch of the imagination. If drug testing is going to work, it's got to be random, it's got to be unannounced, and it's got to be at any time."
"I expect them to go with testing at the championships first and get their feet wet," he said. "Then I think they'll expand testing to year-round. This is what the NCAA did. They started testing at championships in 1986 and then went to a year-round program starting in 1990."
For years, however, the NCAA did not test athletes during the summer, leaving a big loophole in its so-called year-round testing program. Random testing of college athletes was extended into the summer months for the first time this year.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association projects that about 500 athletes -- about 5 percent of the 10,000 athletes who participate in tournaments each year -- will be tested this school year.
Sixty percent of the tests will occur in sports that the association deems most susceptible to steroid use, such as football, track and field, wrestling, baseball, lacrosse and swimming.
Urine samples will be analyzed by the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory in Los Angeles, the only lab in the nation accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency to perform steroid testing.