SBD/August 23, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Congressional Intervention Threatened As NFL, NFLPA Battle Over HGH Testing

Cummings said the NFLPA is holding HGH testing hostage
U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on Thursday "threatened congressional intervention ... if the NFL can't implement [HGH] testing this season after more than two years of delays," according to Tom Pelissero of USA TODAY. Cummings said, "After two years of negotiations, the NFLPA is now holding HGH testing hostage because of matters wholly unrelated to testing. Continuing to block HGH testing in this way essentially will force Congress to intervene, which nobody wants." NFL Senior VP/Labor Policy & Gov't Affairs Adolpho Birch "raised the possibility of renewed congressional intervention Thursday," hours after NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth reiterated in an e-mail that the union "wants to end Commissioner Roger Goodell's authority over appeals of punishments triggered by something other than a positive test, such as an HGH-related arrest." Birch countered that the union "accepted the commissioner's authority on such matters as part of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, which included a deal to begin HGH testing, and the league does not 'feel it appropriate for him to abdicate that responsibility.'" Cummings in December "accused the union of trying to back out on an agreement to blood test for HGH" that was included in the CBA. A source said that there have been "conversations but no formal meetings between the sides" since NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith signed a letter Aug. 8 "authorizing the HGH population study the union wanted." Birch said that it was "possible HGH testing could begin later in the season if that's when an agreement came, but it would be better to start in Week 1" (USA TODAY, 8/23).

TWO SIDES TO A STORY: NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir of External Affairs George Atallah said that players have "been asked to vote twice on whether to allow Goodell 'to keep his appeal authority for violations of law, and two times the players have said, 'No.'" Atallah: "I don't expect the players' position to change on that" (ESPN.com, 8/22). FOXSPORTS.com's Mike Garafolo wrote the NFL and union are "basically doing the collective-bargaining equivalent of flicking each others' ears instead of resolving the remaining issues." Birch has said that he "believes the population study itself is a stall tactic." It now seems he believes it is "being deflected from the main issue, which is the overall agreement on testing." Birch believes that the NFL has "made all of the concessions during negotiations." With the "clock ticking, the odds of having HGH testing in the NFL for the start of the 2013 season are dwindling." And the NFL clearly "is getting impatient" (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/22).
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