SBD/Issue 5/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NFL May Consider Giving Up Control Of Drug-Testing Program

Pash Says NFL May Give
Up Control Of Drug Program
NFL Exec VP & General Counsel Jeff Pash Thursday indicated that the league "might consider giving control of its steroid-testing program to an outside agency if it determines that it cannot continue to run the program effectively in cooperation" with the NFLPA, according to Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. The acknowledgment comes after Minnesota court rulings "have put on hold" the suspensions of Vikings DTs Kevin Williams and Pat Williams for testing positive for a banned substance in the StarCaps supplement. Pash: "It doesn't serve anyone's interests to have a program like this fragmented by wide-ranging state laws. If we can't administer the program on our own, we might have to turn to an outside entity like WADA." Pash said the league in the Williamses' case has "a range of further court options." He added that the NFL is "hopeful of meeting with union officials within the next two weeks to resolve the issue." However, Pash noted that the league's "inability to administer its program with uniformity could imperil the independence of a program that generally drew praise from members of Congress in the past." NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir of External Affairs George Atallah said the union's intentions in the StarCaps case "were not to challenge the overall system," but instead were to "protect our players from an isolated abuse and injustice from within the system." Maske reports the NFL giving up control of the program "would represent a significant shift in policy for a league that has administered its testing policy in conjunction with the union for two decades." An NFLPA source said that the union "would like to reach a resolution with the league that would keep the steroid-testing program basically intact." However, Maske notes the NFLPA also has indicated that it "will seek during the current labor negotiations to establish a system by which an independent arbitrator could hear appeals of disciplinary measures taken by the league against players" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/18).

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