NFL and NFLPA Agree to New Drug-Testing Policy

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor ISeptember 4, 2014

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Updates from Sunday, Oct. 5

ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio reports on some of the details of the new HGH testing policy that will go into effect on Monday:

When HGH testing begins on Monday, the NFL will embark on an effort that will result in more than 1,300 samples being analyzed per year.

Per a league source, the NFL will be conducting 950 HGH tests in the preseason, regular season, and postseason combined.  Another 385 HGH tests will be conducted in the offseason.

In contrast, Major League Baseball conducts roughly 400 HGH tests per year.

A computer will randomly select five teams per week, and then randomly select eight players from the active roster, practice squad, and any reserve lists.  Excluded from the pool will be players already subject to reasonable-cause testing.


Updates from Friday, Sept. 12

Yahoo! Sports' Rand Getlin reports the deal is done:

Pro Football Talk indicates a roadblock may still remain between the two sides as they look to form a new drug policy:

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports one change that could come under the new policy:

Pro Football Talk has more details:

George Atallah of the NFLPA provides an update on the negotiations:

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network indicates some of the players who would be re-instated should the new drug policy passes:


Updates from Thursday, Sept. 11

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport has the latest info:

A date for a vote on the new drug-testing policy has been decided upon, according to Mike Klis of The Denver Post:

Albert Breer of NFL Network provides details on the NFL and NFLPA's progress:

Although, fellow NFL Network colleague Rapoport suggests differently: 

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported this as it pertains to a new agreement on drug testing:

Matthew Berry of ESPN shared another piece of information from Schefter about how a new agreement would impact Josh Gordon:


Updates from Wednesday, Sept. 10

USA Today's Tom Pelissero provided the latest update:

Ian Rapoport updated the timeline for a vote on the new testing policy:

Breer and Rapoport also reported on marijuana testing under a new agreement:

Though all aspects of the negotiation are fluid, there has been basic agreement in other areas:

1) There would be reform in marijuana testing. The threshold for the A sample is expected to be raised from 15ng/ml to match normal workplace standards in other businesses. Also, the first suspension for marijuana would be two games, rather than four.

Rapoport later shared more on what a new agreement would mean for suspended players:

Breer provided more details on negotiations:


Updates from Tuesday, Sept. 9

Yahoo Sports' Rand Getlin has the latest on the status of the potential agreement:

Getlin reported on the next step toward a possible drug-testing agreement:

Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer reports on potential repercussions if the NFL were to reverse its decision on suspensions to players like Josh Gordon and Wes Welker:

Earlier, NBC Sports' Mike Florio provided details on negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA on a new drug policy:

Last night's report from ESPN that the NFLPA board of player representatives will vote Tuesday on a new drug policy suggested that the league and union had struck a tentative agreement that simply needed to be approved.

But that's not the case. There's no agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA at this point. Instead, the NFLPA has asked the NFL to make a proposal on which the players could then vote.

The proposal first would have to be regarded as strong enough by union leadership to justify a vote. Ultimately, however, it's up to the reps to accept or reject it.


Updates from Monday, Sept. 8

Albert Breer provides an update on today's negotiations regarding the drug-testing policy between the NFL and NFLPA:

ESPN's Chris Mortensen has more details on what's in store for Tuesday:

Mortensen and Adam Schefter further reported on the intricacies of the proposed deal:

The proposed policy will include human growth hormone testing for the first time, as well as make significant changes that raise limits for marijuana testing and expand neutral arbitration, sources said.

The two sides still have some disagreement on proposed issues, but the NFLPA agreed to take the league's latest proposal to the player reps for a vote. The union informed the majority of its player reps Monday evening of the development. Four others are involved in the Monday night double-header.

One late sticking point is that the league has received complaints and concerns from owners regarding possible reinstatement for recently suspended players such as Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns and Wes Welker of the Denver Broncos, who would not have been suspended under the proposed policy. Those owners were displeased that a new agreement would not necessarily alter the standing of their own suspended players.

Nevertheless, there are numerous unidentified players in the league's substance abuse program who would benefit from the changes, sources said.

Bleacher Report's Jason Cole reveals "non-negotiable" issues the NFL and NFLPA are discussing for the potential new drug policy:


Updates from Sunday, Sept. 7

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk provides an update on when talks between the NFL and NFLPA will resume regarding a new drug-testing policy:

After a long week of negotiations regarding a new, comprehensive drug policy, the NFL and NFLPA rested — so that the players could go exert themselves for three or more hours.

Per a league source, the negotiations are expected to resume on Monday.

One of the major sticking points continues to be the NFL’s proposal that players will be deactivated with pay for one game following a DUI arrest.  The NFLPA strongly opposes this idea, since it fails to take into account the possibility that the player actually may be innocent.'s Ian Rapoport previously provided an updated timeline on the potential new drug-testing policy as Week 1 began Sunday:

Mark Maske of The Washington Post also reported what he was hearing about a potential agreement:


Updates from Friday, Sept. 5

Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has the latest:

ESPN's Jeff Legwold shares this:

NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith told a Washington radio station Friday that, in talks with the NFL about a new policy for performance-enhancing drugs, the union will seek to reverse suspensions that occurred this year but are based retroactively to the previous policy.

"We don't want players to suffer because the union and league couldn't get it done before the league year," Smith told 106.7 The Fan, adding that the union would not agree to any policy that punishes players on simply being arrested.

Albert Breer details more on what the policy could mean:


Updates from Thursday, Sept. 4

Breer notes the discussions being held on a revised drug-testing policy in the NFL:

Striking up a new policy could benefit currently suspended players like Wes Welker and Josh Gordon, according to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk:

As Mike Florio reported on NBC, Welker, Gordon and potentially other players in the midst of suspensions could benefit from a new drug testing policy that the owners and players could agree upon soon.

The new policy that may be forthcoming has received attention primarily because it would include testing for human growth hormone, which has never before been tested in the NFL. But the policy would also have some other changes.

One change is that offseason use of amphetamines would move from the performance-enhancing substance policy to the substance-abuse policy. That would mean that Welker would switch from a first-time offender in the PED policy (which carries an automatic four-game suspension) to a first-time offender in the substance-abuse policy (which carries no suspension).

Another change is that the threshold to trigger a positive result on a marijuana test would rise. That would affect Gordon because his positive marijuana test was just barely above the NFL’s current threshold for a positive, which is significantly lower than the threshold for other organizations like the World Anti-Doping Agency.

NFL Players Association President Eric Winston issued a statement regarding the possibility of a new drug-testing agreement, via the official NFLPA website:

Players who have been to any collective bargaining negotiation understand that we never describe them as 'very close.' We look at every issue we can to improve the rights and benefits of players. This process takes time, it takes creativity and it is never easy.

We want to get a new agreement in place but we understand the responsibility we have to the players and to the game. It is critical that we get this right.


Original Text

After a three-year stalemate, the NFL and NFLPA are reportedly "very close" to an agreement on a system that would implement human growth hormone (HGH) testing, according to a source cited by Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio

As ESPN's Andrew Brandt noted, this would be a long time coming, as negotiations between the two sides have been at a standstill for quite some time:

Mark Maske of The Washington Post may have an answer as to why the NFL is just now making a push to get a new policy in place:

Roger Goodell briefly commented on the discussions between the NFL and NFLPA, via Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk:

The bone of contention since that announcement has been whether it would be commissioner Roger Goodell or an independent arbitrator handling the appeals and disciplinary process following positive tests. 

Per Florio, the agreement in place would assign those duties to an arbitrator. 

Many have criticized the NFL for moving at a snail's pace in implementing HGH testing. In fact, earlier Wednesday, Senator John McCain wrote a letter wagging his finger at both the league and the union for taking so long to come to terms:

This inexplicable failure should be embarrassing to both owners and players, as it erodes fans’ confidence in the integrity of a great American sport, and sends a dangerous message to young athletes that there are no consequences for hGH use by the NFL players they admire and seek to emulate.

The Boston Herald's Gerry Callahan identified the inconsistencies of the NFL's drug policies:

In an in-depth look at HGH's current and future role in the NFL by Bleacher Report's Michael Schottey, New Orleans Saints tight end and NFLPA representative Benjamin Watson said he doesn't know of any teammates who have taken HGH, but he does understand the importance of the league maintaining a positive image. 

“We talk all the time about the integrity of the game,” he said. “Fans want to be confident that what they’re seeing is true sportsmanship. That’s part of what makes our game popular. We want it to be on a level playing field.”

This potential agreement may have a far-reaching effect that goes beyond just HGH testing. According to Florio, it is a "comprehensive agreement on drug testing," meaning the policies on PEDs and substance abuse could also be altered. 

Of course, even after three years, the process isn't quite on the brink of completion. After an agreement is made official, a population study must be done to determine the natural HGH level in NFL players.

Still, while the process has been painfully slow, this is an encouraging development from the NFL, which has been lambasted recently for its drug policies and punishments. 


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