SBD/Issue 87/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NFL, NFLPA Reach Agreement On Tougher Drug-Testing Policy

Goodell Says League Is Ahead
Of The Pack On Drug Testing
The NFL and the NFLPA have agreed to a series of modifications to their drug-testing policy and program on anabolic steroids and related substances, including the addition of EPO to the banned substance list. The deal, effective immediately, also calls for an increase in the number of players randomly tested each week during the preseason, regular season and postseason from seven to ten per team. The number of offseason tests was increased from a maximum of two per player to six. Players suspended for violating the steroid or substance abuse policy will now forfeit a prorated portion of their signing bonus in addition to their base salary. The league also committed at least $500,000 in grant aid to the UCLA Olympic testing lab towards the development of new HGH testing measures, as well as a $1.2M grant to help stop steroid use in high schools (NFL). NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “The NFL is ahead of the pack on this, and going after the players’ bonuses sends a powerful message” (USA TODAY, 1/25). In N.Y., Hank Gola notes the NFL will be the first pro U.S. league to regularly test for EPO (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/25). NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw said that as soon as next season, players who test positive “could also be barred from consideration for postseason awards” (N.Y. TIMES, 1/25).

REAX FROM ANTI-DOPING COMMUNITY: In Charlotte, Charles Chandler reports in a front-page piece that the league “made no commitment to participate in HGH blood tests if they become available later this year as expected” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/25). While WADA member Gary Wadler praised the changes, he believes there should be a provision allowing for blood samples to be frozen until a reliable HGH test is developed. But Upshaw said, “What use would it be for you to find something out two or three years from now and we’ve already played games? We have 25[%] turnover each year. What good is that? It’s almost like changing the speed-limit sign after you’ve passed” (N.Y. TIMES, 1/25). Penn State Univ.’s Charles Yesalis said that the enhancements “won’t mean much until the NFL contracts with an outside agency to create a transparent testing system.” Yesalis: “We only know about the positive tests we’re allowed to know about. ... Until that changes, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the other moves they make.” Yesalis added the $500,000 grant for an improved HGH test is “unbelievably inadequate” (Baltimore SUN, 1/25). WADA Chair Dick Pound: “Four games for steroids. Frankly, that is not serious.” Upshaw responded, “The record speaks volumes about what we have done in the NFL. We also have a union that protects and defends our players, which is what is (lacking) in the Pound arena” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/25).

Bruener Does Not Believe NFL
Has Problem With Illegal Substances
REAX FROM THE HILL: U.S. House Government Reform Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) said, “I am encouraged that the NFL is taking additional steps. I think more needs to be done to discourage the use of [HGH], and I look forward to continuing to work with the NFL and other sports leagues on that issue.” Ranking minority member Tom Davis (R-VA) said, “These changes show what sports leagues and their players’ associations can accomplish when they set their minds to eradicating steroids from their sports” (Mult., 1/25).

PLAYER REAX: Patriots LB and union rep Don Davis said, “The NFL players wanted the steroids out of the league. That was our goal 10 years ago, and we’re still going strong now” (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/25). Colts DE Dwight Freeney, who was randomly tested yesterday, said, “Whenever you can catch some cheaters, it makes my job easier. ... Anything you can do for the integrity of this game is good” (USA TODAY, 1/25). Texans TE and union rep Mark Bruener “doesn’t believe the league has a problem with illegal supplements,” but he said, “In professional sports, one headline about a player in a negative light paints a broad stroke. That can be unfair to the other players, but that's how it is. So with these new policies, we can be proactive in working toward a drug-free league” (USA TODAY, 1/25).
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