NFL Reportedly Agrees to Implement 3rd-Party Arbitration for Positive HGH Tests
The NFL's policy on the use of human growth hormone is starting to take shape, as the NFL and NFLPA have reportedly agreed to allow outside arbitration for positive HGH tests.
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the league will allow someone other than NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to determine whether a player has tested positive for HGH.
UPDATE: Thursday, Aug. 29
From The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson:
Dick Butkus statement: 'It is inexcusable to not have HGH testing in place. Guys playing clean are getting the short end of the stick.'— Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) August 29, 2013
UPDATE: Friday, Aug. 23
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the arbitration policy extends beyond HGH testing:
Lost in Thursday’s back-and-forth between the NFL and the NFLPA regarding HGH testing is one fairly important point. The league has agreed to use third-party arbitration not only for HGH testing but also for all other forms of PED testing.
Both the NFL and the NFLPA have informed PFT that a deal on HGH testing will include arbitration for positive HGH results and other positive results for performance-enhancing drugs. The lone sticking point remains the NFL’s desire to keep the appeal rights for violations arising from something other than a positive test in the hands of the Commissioner.
UPDATE: Friday, Aug. 23
From NFL.com's Albert Breer:
Today, an email went out to all players and agents on hGH testing, warning players to be ready for sample collection.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 23, 2013
NFLPA to players: “Men: In our efforts to improve the integrity of our collectively bargained joint drug policies, please remember that ..."— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 23, 2013
(NFLPA to players cont): "... collection protocol rules, including validation of a player’s identification at the time of collection, ..."— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 23, 2013
(NFLPA to players cont): "... be strictly enforced.”— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 23, 2013
It's one of many sticking points on which the league and players have come to an agreement as the sides attempt to implement a policy for HGH.
According to Albert Breer and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, an email from a league source reveals that much of the policy is already in place, with the parameters of the agreement as follows:
- Random blood testing will begin in the first week of the regular season with 40 players being tested weekly.
- All players will have blood samples taken in the preseason. Experts will then use those blood samples to advise the league and the union "of the numerical value at which a test result should be deemed 'positive.'"
- Discipline for positive tests will include a four-game suspension upon the first offense and an eight-game suspension for the second. According to Florio, a third offense will result in a year-long ban.
The league's current drug-testing policy stems from the 2006 collective bargaining agreement. According to Breer and Rapoport, the final hurdle to a completed deal is the role that Goodell will play in the appeals process.
An ESPN report elaborates on how the union reportedly want to see Goodell's role in the appeals process change:
All appeals involving positive PED tests currently are heard by a third-party arbitrator. The source said the union wants all appeals to be heard by a third-party arbitrator and not Goodell.
"The final hurdle appears to be the union's opposition to maintaining the commissioner's current authority to hear appeals for violations other than a positive test," the source said. "These changes would be contrary to the terms of the CBA and the operation of the drug and steroid program over the past 25 years. We do not believe it is appropriate further to limit the commissioner's disciplinary authority."
For now, it appears until one side budges on what role Goodell will play in violations that don't produce a positive test result, progress won't be made on the HGH testing front.
The NFL's decision to outsource the mediation process for positive tests should ensure that the new policy is enforced with consistency across the league. It's another step in the right direction for a league that has publicly tried to make the game safer for its players in recent years.
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