SBD/September 26, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

HGH Testing Remains Unresolved Issue For NFL, NFLPA

Three weeks into the NFL's regular season, there is "no HGH" testing, and it "remains the one unresolved issue lingering from the labor dispute," according to a front-page piece by Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY. The NFLPA has "not approved the league's proposed testing plan, maintaining that tests developed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) -- which flag a positive result when ratios of a hormone naturally produced by the body are abnormal -- are not reliable." The NFL "had hoped to begin random blood testing, even on game days, at the start of the regular season." WADA Chair of Prohibited List & Methods sub-Committee Gary Wadler contends that the "delay in HGH testing is a deliberate move by the players." Wadler said, "The pressure is off now. They got their sound bite and their headline. The public, glad to get football back, thinks it's taken care of. So it has lost interest in the issue. That's what the NFLPA is banking on." NFLPA Exec Dir of External Affairs George Atallah called Wadler's claim "shortsighted and misinformed." The NFLPA has said that its approval "is on hold in part because it hasn't received information requested from WADA." The union, which is "concerned the tests might generate false positive results, wants a population study comparing football players to athletes from sports such as rugby, soccer and cycling who have been in HGH testing programs." But WADA Dir General David Howman said that the NFLPA is "seeking information that doesn't exist." Bell notes it "might take a push from Capitol Hill to force a resolution." U.S. Rep. & former NFLer Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) last week "led a group of 14 lawmakers who sent letters" to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith "seeking an estimated time when HGH testing would begin" (USA TODAY, 9/26).

PLAYER CONDUCT: SI’s Peter King said there is “some concern about the relationship” between Smith and “some of his players.” Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio said at the end of the lockout, the NFL and NFLPA “had to decide what to do with players who were arrested during the lockout,” and Goodell and Smith “agreed that the first-time offenders who were arrested during the lockout would not be disciplined in any way by the league. Eight repeat offenders, however, they agreed, would potentially be disciplined.” One of those eight players was Bengals RB Cedric Benson, who “has been suspended three games. He's taking legal action against the NFLPA. Now the NFLPA is backing off a little bit and who knows how it’s all going to turn out, but some players not happy.” King added, “I hear that the Executive Board of the players’ association -- 10 players -- want to have a conference call this week to hear from De Smith” (“FNIA,” NBC, 9/25).

PLAYING HIS PART: Colts C Jeff Saturday sat down with NBC’s Bob Costas during “Football Night In America” yesterday to discuss his role in the labor talks this offseason. Costas noted Saturday, a member of the NFLPA Exec Committee, “was heavily involved in the negotiations during the lockout.” Costas said to Saturday, “You were an important part of the negotiations this summer between the players and the owners. (Cowboys Owner) Jerry Jones told me this week, without Jeff Saturday [there would be] no deal in time to start the season on time.” Saturday: “I'm very appreciative of all those guys. They've been really kind in the words they've used, and I took that very serious. ... It was important to me, it was important to the other men that we represented, and I felt like Jerry Jones, (Panthers Owner) Jerry Richardson and (Patriots Owner) Robert Kraft, all those men showed up prepared to make concessions. Everybody was forthright with what they wanted and felt like they had to have and whenever you have negotiations like that you can get it done” (“FNIA,” NBC, 9/25).

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