SBD/March 25, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Lockout Watch, Day 14: League Insistent On HGH Testing In New CBA

NFL VP/Law & Labor Policy Adolpho Birch Thursday said that the league is "insistent upon HGH testing" when a new CBA is reached with the NFLPA, according to Alex Marvez of FOXSPORTS.com. Birch: "We want it. We think it's necessary. We're going to ensure that it's done. ... At this point, it's proper for it to be an active part of our program." Birch said that the NFL "had discussed the matter with NFLPA representatives before labor talks ended March 11 and a work stoppage began." An NFLPA source said an agreement for HGH testing "would have to be part of settlement discussions with the class," referring to the attorneys representing 10 NFL players in an antitrust lawsuit against the league. Marvez notes testing for HGH "could become a contentious subject among NFLPA members," and it also "could become a bargaining chip for the NFL in CBA negotiations." There currently is "no reliable HGH urine test although medical and scientific research is being done to create one." The NFL "formally requested the implementation of HGH testing from the NFLPA in January 2010," but the NFLPA "declined the request because it believed the issue should be part of CBA negotiations" (FOXSPORTS.com, 3/25). ESPN's Doug Gottlieb said, "I don't think the players are going to win on this one. They're just not. Public perception is, 'All these guys are on it, everybody's on HGH, we want to get it out of our sports.' And the only way to do so is to allow testing. It may not be full disclosure but it's the appearance of fully disclosing exactly what you're taking" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 3/25).

RULES GO OUT THE WINDOW: In DC, Mark Maske notes the NFL's drug-testing program for players is "no longer in effect" during the lockout, and "some question whether the league can punish players for violations of its personal conduct policy committed during the lockout." Also, because the players have decertified their union, the NFLPA "no longer polices agents." Sports attorney David Cornwell, who represents players on a variety of issues, said, "It's all uncharted territory from here on out. Everything that emanates from the Players Association regulating agents is suspended. And everything that emanates from the NFL regarding the regulation of players is suspended." But CBS analyst Charley Casserly said that the "lack of testing might not be quite as alarming as it sounds because the program will return well before games are played." Maske notes "one suggestion quietly being contemplated by some agents is phasing the drug-testing program back into operation, with an initial grace period, once the lockout ends." But Birch said that "there is 'no basis' for anything other than putting testing for steroids and other drugs back into effect immediately" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/25).

PLAYER'S PERSPECTIVE: Free agent CB and Ravens player rep Chris Carr said that he "considered it 'disingenuous' when owners suggested the players walked away from the negotiating table -- and a good offer -- in Washington two weeks ago." Carr: "It's been very clear that we're the ones who want to negotiate. Every single player on the executive committee was at the mediation every single day. We always had people with influence there. They had nobody with decision-making capabilities until after we won the court case." Carr said that the owners' final offer was "not one the players could accept." Carr: "If we want to screw over the players who get in the league when we're done, we could sign this and I'll be happy. But it was just not a good deal at all" (Baltimore SUN, 3/25).

FANS GETTING INVOLVED: In Cleveland, Pat Galbincea reports Consolidated Graphics Group Chair & CEO Ken Lanci "sued the NFL, the Cleveland Browns and the league's 31 other teams on Thursday, aiming to save the upcoming football season." Lanci claims that the NFL lockout "violates his private seat license contract with the Browns and jeopardizes his right to watch a full season of home games" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 3/25).
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