NFL, NFLPA to Agree on New Drug Policy: Latest Details, Comments, Reaction

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2014

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Updates from Friday, Oct. 3 

Albert Breer of NFL Network indicates the new reported start date of HGH testing in the NFL:

Updates from Tuesday, Sept. 30

Paul Domowitch of Philly.com provides details on the implementation of HGH testing in the NFL:

Updates from Wednesday, Sept. 17

The NFL announced that the PED policy changes have been agreed upon:

The NFL and NFL Players Association have reached agreement on wide-ranging improvements to their policy on performance enhancing substances that include the use of third-party arbitration appeals of positive tests and implementation of testing for human growth hormone within the next few weeks.

The league also commented on the suspensions of certain players:

Discipline of players for certain violations in the 2014 league year will be adjusted to reflect the new policy. Wes Welker of the Denver Broncos, Orlando Scandrick of the Dallas Cowboys and Stedman Bailey of the St. Louis Rams will be eligible to return to their teams this week.

 Albert Breer of NFL Network reports how the new drug policy could affect certain players:

Updates from Tuesday, Sept. 16

ESPN's Ed Werder provides an update on how close the NFL is to implementing its new drug testing policy: 

CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora added when the official announcement is expected:

Updates from Monday, Sept. 15

Adam Schefter of ESPN updated the latest on reinstated players following the eventual agreement of a new drug policy:

Upon agreement of term sheet for new drug policy, these players will be reinstated: Broncos WR Wes Welker, Rams WR Steadman Bailey, Cowboys DB Orlando Scandrick, Giants OL Eric Herman and former Vikings DE Spencer Nealy.

WRs Josh Gordon and former Colt LaVon Brazill will have their season-long suspensions reduced to 10 games.

Gordon continues to be allowed to work out at the Browns’ training facility.

The seven above names are part of the estimated 20 who will be affected by the new policy once it is approved by the NFL, which is likely to occur in the next 24 hours.

Updates from Sunday, Sept. 14

Pro Football Talk reported on a potential timeline for a final deal in the NFL's new drug policy:

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network details the current timeline for the potential confirmation of the new drug policy:

Updates from Saturday, Sept. 13

Tom Pelissero of USA Today has details of the revised drug-testing policy. He discusses some of the changes regarding testing for marijuana, noting that it takes at least two positive tests to reach a level where punishments occur.

At Stage 2, a player can be tested up to 10 times per month. Once a player enters Stage 2, the following punishments apply ("MJ" is marijuana; "O" is other banned substances of abuse):

Next violation relating to MJ 2 game fine

Next violation relating to O 4 game fine

Player's last discipline was 2 game fine for MJ:

Next violation relating to MJ 4 game fine

Next violation relating to O 4 game fine

Player's last discipline was 4 game fine for MJ or O:

Next violation relating to MJ 4 game suspension

Next violation relating to O 4 game suspension, entry into Stage 3 for O

Player's last discipline was for 4 game suspension for MJ or O:

Next violation relating to MJ 10 game suspension, entry into Stage 3

Next violation relating to O Banishment, can reinstatement after 1 year

Player's last discipline was for 10 game suspension for MJ:

Next violation relating to MJ Banishment, can reinstatement after 1 year

Pelissero also details the new DUI policy. In it, a player is given a two-game suspension for a first offense, although the commissioner is allowed to increase punishment in severe cases.

For a second offense, a player is suspended for eight games. Pelissero also details the punishment for substance abuse other than alcohol:

Absent aggravating circumstances, discipline for a first offense will be a suspension without pay for up to four regular and/or post-season games. If the Commissioner finds that there were aggravating circumstances, including but not limited to felonious conduct or serious injury or death of third parties, and/or if the Player has had prior drug or alcohol-related misconduct, increased discipline may be imposed.

Discipline for a second or subsequent offense, absent aggravating circumstances, will be a suspension without pay for a minimum of six up to ten regular and/or post-season games. A Player's treatment history may be considered by the Commissioner in determining the appropriate level of discipline.

Finally, Pelissero discusses HGH testing. The policies will be the same with regard to punishment as they are for other PEDs. He details the testing procedure: 

There will be no population study to determine the appropriate "decision limit" for NFL players, as the union had pushed for and the league at one point agreed. (Instead, players have the right to challenge the science of the isoforms test.) So, the league can go straight into full-blown testing – and discipline.

Five players from eight randomly selected teams will be selected by a computer program for blood testing in the preseason and the regular season. Five players on each club during the postseason also will be tested, and 10% of each team's players will be randomly selected for offseason testing. There is pre-employment and reasonable cause testing, too.

Bleacher Report's Jason Cole has an update on the status of the drug-policy changes:

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported on potential reinstatements following the agreement:

Original Text

With more than a few interested parties looking on—most prominently among them Cleveland Browns wideout Josh Gordon and Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker—the NFL Players Association reports that a new drug policy has been passed.

The NFLPA made things official (full terms of agreement can be found here):

The NFLPA Board of Representatives tonight voted to approve new policies for both substances of abuse and performance enhancing drugs.

“This is an historic moment for our Players and our League,” said NFLPA President Eric Winston. “We have collectively bargained drug policies that will keep the game clean and safe, but also provide our players with an unprecedented level of fairness and transparency. Players should be proud of their union for standing up for what was best for the game.”

“We stood up and fought for what was right,” said DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA executive director. “Twenty-five years ago it was NFL players that set out to make the game clean by asking for and collectively bargaining the first drug testing policy in professional sports. Today, this union and these player leaders have approved a policy that will serve the game well for generations of players to come.”

However, NFLPR's Greg Aiello reports that things aren't quite finished:

Yahoo! Sports' Rand Getlin first reported the news.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport added more details:

NFL on ESPN touched on two big players impacted by the new policy. However, things won't be official until the NFLPA releases a list of players:

Getlin had more player-specific news:

The meetings between the NFL and the NFLPA revolved around several key issues with the previous drug policy.

These included raising the threshold for the level of marijuana discovered in a drug test that would trigger a suspension—an issue, if resolved, expected to affect the year-long suspension of Gordon. Other issues: becoming more lenient on the punishments for amphetamine use in the offseason, the right to deactivate players without pay who are charged with a DUI before the legal process plays out and an agreement on HGH testing, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 09:  Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the start of the preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on August 9, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Browns 13-12 in a preseason game.  (
Leon Halip/Getty Images

It was believed when the NFL and NFLPA ended the lockout and signed a new collective bargaining agreement in 2011 that the two sides were close to an agreement on HGH. Still, both sides have had difficulty coming to terms on how the tests would be implemented and what the procedures might be, delaying the negotiations. 

The league's desire to have players suspended immediately following a DUI arrest is still a major issue. On Saturday, NFLPA executive George Atallah told Tom Pelissero of USA Today it was "a nonstarter" for the players in these negotiations. Per the new agreement, players would face a mandatory two-game suspension only when convicted.

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 28:  Wide receiver Wes Welker #83 of the Denver Broncos speaks to the media during Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day at the Prudential Center on January 28, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. Super Bowl XLVIII will be played between the Seattle Se
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

The month of September has certainly already been a whirlwind for the NFL. Suffice it to say, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and company have had plenty to keep them busy over the past week. 

As one controversy after another seems to surround the league, the players and commissioner's office coming together to agree on the policy would surely be a bit of positive PR for the NFL.

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