Steroid testing among student-athletes has been allowed for years in New Jersey, but legislation advancing in Trenton would make the process perfectly legal for years to come.

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Under the measure, a program of random steroid testing would be developed and implemented in the 2014-2015 school year for student-athletes who qualify to compete in championship tournaments sanctioned by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA).

An executive order for an identical initiative was signed in 2005 by acting Gov. Richard Codey.

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood), a sponsor of the measure, said the pressures of using performance-enhancing drugs start well before the professional level.

"Many of these young athletes see their sporting heroes achieve impressive feats with the help of steroids and think it is OK to do the same, not understanding how detrimental these drugs can be to their physical and psychological health," Huttle said. "Random testing coupled with education is essential if we really want to prevent the use of these dangerous drugs among our student athletes."

The bill, which already cleared the full Senate and an Assembly panel, would also require that coaches incorporate into their teams' training activities a program designed to reduce the use of steroids. Students wouldn't be the only ones "learning" under the bill, which requires the NJSIAA to develop and implement a steroid prevention information program for all public and nonpublic high school coaches and athletic directors.