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NFL asks: If figure skaters will submit blood tests, why won’t players?

A person does a blood test at a roadside Getty Images

Are the teenage girls who participate in international figure skating and gymnastics competitions tougher than NFL players?

The question sounds absurd, but it’s what Adolpho Birch, who runs the league’s drug-testing policies, wants to know.

Birch appeared on 106.7 The Fan in Baltimore to respond to Ravens receiver Derrick Mason, who called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is “a joke” for his insistence on testing players’ blood for illicit use of human growth hormone. Birch noted that while NFL players say drawing blood is going too far, athletes around the world already get blood drawn as part of Olympic-style drug testing.

“We’re talking about a tablespoon or so of blood,” Birch said. “If a 13-year-old gymnast or figure skater can handle getting the blood test, I think our players should be able to do so as well.”

Mason is one of many NFL players who have said that blood tests are too intrusive. Birch says urine tests are intrusive, too, but that’s just the reality of drug testing in sports.

“Blood testing may appear to be intrusive, but I would argue that standing naked and allowing someone to watch you as you relieve yourself is not particularly enjoyable either,” Birch said. “I get tested the same way the players do and I can vouch for that directly — it is not an enjoyable thing to do.”

Ultimately, Birch said, players like Mason may be frustrated by what’s going on in the NFL right now, but the league office — right up to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell — is standing firmly behind the need for blood testing.

“HGH testing and the integrity of our game is as critically important as anything we’re talking about in the course of these discussions,” Birch said. “I think the commissioner’s statements were right on point.”

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48 Responses to “NFL asks: If figure skaters will submit blood tests, why won’t players?”
  1. jamie54 says: Apr 6, 2011 3:09 PM

    If you have nothing to hide, what’s the harm? If it’s a job requirement, so be it. That’s the way it is. If you don’t like it do something else but if other people in everyday positions go through the same thing don’t be such wussies about it.

  2. danetow says: Apr 6, 2011 3:10 PM

    At least someone decided to call a spade a spade.

  3. commoncents says: Apr 6, 2011 3:11 PM

    I do hope Mason is the first tested when blood tests are passed.

  4. tigerhawkeye says: Apr 6, 2011 3:14 PM

    I find it rather shocking that amateur athletes (most Olympians) are held to a higher standard than their professional counterparts when it comes to drug testing. The latter have at least 600,000 (and frequently a few million) additional reasons to use PEDs.

  5. jpmelon says: Apr 6, 2011 3:17 PM

    The NFL and the players should be more focused on the courtroom in minnesota. This is stupid.

  6. cruells says: Apr 6, 2011 3:18 PM

    Who would have thought that a figure skater is tougher then an NFL player..

    Just suck it up and drain a bit of blood..

    If they have nothing to hide then it shouldn’t be a problem..

  7. canadianvikingfaniii says: Apr 6, 2011 3:20 PM

    jamie54 says:
    Apr 6, 2011 3:09 PM
    If you have nothing to hide, what’s the harm?
    —————————
    Exactly, but I bet alot of players do have something to hide. See Brian Cushing, “I workout too much which caused it to read positive.”

  8. ghostfacenoah says: Apr 6, 2011 3:20 PM

    The answer is obvious. A lot of players right now are using HGH and don’t want to be caught. Its not natural for someone to be 6’6, 290 pounds and run a 4.6…

  9. saberstud75 says: Apr 6, 2011 3:21 PM

    Or is it because Derrick Mason is 37 years old and needs HGH to perform higher and recover faster in order to stay employed?

    These players are a joke. Everytime they open their mouths it reinforces why they should be considered “employees” and not “partners.”

  10. angrycorgi says: Apr 6, 2011 3:21 PM

    “NFL asks: If figure skaters will submit blood tests, why won’t players?”

    Because most figure skaters aren’t paranoid from using undetectable ‘roids, HGH and smoking loads of weed.

  11. chargerdillon says: Apr 6, 2011 3:23 PM

    NFL asks: If figure skaters will submit blood tests, why won’t players?

    Easiest answer in the world: Because the players have something to hide……LIKE MASSIVE HGH ABUSE

  12. angrycorgi says: Apr 6, 2011 3:25 PM

    “I do hope Mason is the first tested when blood tests are passed.”

    Heaven forbid they use a rusty needle and he wind up with tetanus (aka “lock jaw”), rendering him incapable of saying MORE stupid things.

  13. huskerguy says: Apr 6, 2011 3:25 PM

    I think Olympians are supposed to submit as well… right?

    I think the only thing intrusive is that you guys are starting to eff with my football season coming up. I support your spoiled butts. Get over it… both sides!

  14. stylinandprofilin says: Apr 6, 2011 3:26 PM

    These players truely believe that they are better than the normal person. They need to shut the hell up and be thankful to have such high paying jobs. Who are they to tell the owners what they will and won’t do. If they want the job they need to do what is asked of them. If they don’t like it, find another job.

  15. steeelfann says: Apr 6, 2011 3:28 PM

    They won’t submit blood tests because many use HGH, roids, and related. You will get busted, that is why.

    That is why people won’t blow for a DUI.

    That is why people don’t discuss truths and take the 5th amendment.

    Why baseball players have lied and lied and covered up.

    Why bikers have.

    Why some basketball players have lied.

    Why people have names like Ron Mexico to take care of their “problems”;

    This culture thinks lying, cheating, etc is now okay, even though it is not. Not everyone, but a whole lot.

  16. quarterpounder10 says: Apr 6, 2011 3:29 PM

    Um, why not allow HGH? It helps you heal/recover faster. That means players would be able to come back faster from injuries. What a novel idea..

  17. angrycorgi says: Apr 6, 2011 3:29 PM

    Ya’ll don’t be too hard on ol’ Derrick Mason. He’s just acting on self-preservation. Imagine what would happen if someone got hold of his blood that wasn’t supposed to — like maybe a genetic scientist. And they illegally cloned him. But instead of cloning him straight up, they isolated and removed the gene that causes Derrick to be a whining li’l jerk. Then Derrick would have to compete against a genetically superior version of himself. Terrifying thought, no?

  18. irjonny says: Apr 6, 2011 3:32 PM

    if the league starts to blood test players for drugs i expect to see a lot of early retirements

  19. demolition510 says: Apr 6, 2011 3:32 PM

    The owners pretty much know there’s alot of cheaters in the league. However the current testing won’t detect it. Plus I believe they’ve been looking the other way for a while now for monetary reasons.

    Now that the players are getting paid more, and with the current CBA situation I believe the owners are now sticking it to them.

  20. phinheads says: Apr 6, 2011 3:36 PM

    I feel like such a chump knowing that regardless of how long this childishness/selfishness continues I will be right there waiting to watch them play. I guess I’m an enabler.

  21. rickandj says: Apr 6, 2011 3:37 PM

    I would actually expect the roles to be reversed on this issue. Like when MLB owners were reaping the benefits of the long ball era presumably the NFL owners get an improved product without cost. Meanwhile the clean players are forced to compete with dirty players to keep there jobs. If you expect more then 50% to be clean then this should be fairly straight forward right? hmmm. I wonder if this might be the most important safety step the league could possibly take regarding player health.

    On this labor dispute I am with the players on many issues, but not this one. Kudos to the owners on the HGH stand.

  22. p4ck3r5 says: Apr 6, 2011 3:38 PM

    skating into a football conversation? lol weak

  23. jackfnburton says: Apr 6, 2011 3:40 PM

    A blood test is only intrusive if you’re hiding something.

  24. packfannchitown says: Apr 6, 2011 3:41 PM

    Are there things that could be revealed during a blood test that could be considered an invasion of privacy (i.e. STD, HIV, etc), or are the tests controlled enough to only reveal use of banned substances?

    I’m not an expert on the subject.

  25. tommyf15 says: Apr 6, 2011 3:42 PM

    What an absurd analogy. 13 year olds have very few rights. They’re instructed on what time to go to bed, how late they can stay out, what they can watch on TV, etc. No adult, including a football player, should be held to that standard.

    One can turn it around and ask why figure skaters has to submit to blood tests when NFL, MLB, NBA, etc players do not.

  26. jamaltimore says: Apr 6, 2011 3:45 PM

    Good comparison. Right in line with where goodell is taking the game. pretty soon it will be as rough as figure skating.

  27. tuckercarlsonisthevoiceofreason says: Apr 6, 2011 3:47 PM

    “Blood testing may appear to be intrusive, but I would argue that standing naked and allowing someone to watch you as you relieve yourself is not particularly enjoyable either,” Birch said.

    Speak for yourself. Sounds like a typical Saturday night for most Packer fans.

  28. carlgerbschmidt says: Apr 6, 2011 3:55 PM

    1. tuckercarlsonisthevoiceofreason says: Apr 6, 2011 3:47 PM
    “Blood testing may appear to be intrusive, but I would argue that standing naked and allowing someone to watch you as you relieve yourself is not particularly enjoyable either,” Birch said.
    Speak for yourself. Sounds like a typical Saturday night for most Packer fans.
    ———-
    Really? Sounds more like a typical post-game interview period for vikes’ players to me.

  29. stinkfingers says: Apr 6, 2011 3:56 PM

    As often as the players get arrested for drugs, DUIs and the like… They should do every bit of testing possible.

    As its been said hundreds of times, the people that dont want the testing are the most likely offenders. If you have nothing to hide, its not a big deal.

  30. bfridley says: Apr 6, 2011 3:57 PM

    Ohhhhhhhhhh SNAP! NFL calling out the manhood of these players! Straight up askin: “Where’s your wheel-barrel yo??”

  31. citizenstrange says: Apr 6, 2011 4:01 PM

    Next Goodell should bring up gay marriage as an issue to get everybody all riled up and distract from negotiating a new CBA.

  32. prrbrr says: Apr 6, 2011 4:05 PM

    This article is spot on!

  33. angrycorgi says: Apr 6, 2011 4:06 PM

    First the players were forced to sign multi-million dollar contracts and now they are being required to submit to drug-testing?!? Adrian was right — this modern-day slavery must end!!!

    /sarcasm

  34. jebdamone says: Apr 6, 2011 4:07 PM

    what i don’t understand is why the NFL would want to do something like this which will deter and catch more HGH users and ultimately that is not something i would think they want. I believe a lot of players use PEDs, especially in the off season and the overall ‘excitement’ as the average fan perceives it would take a hit. the truth is, PEDs make for bigger, stronger, faster athletes and that is what everyone wants to see. i am not saying this is a good thing, just the way it is. i wonder if this is a false attempt at compassion, like all the ‘player protection’ talk on the part of the NFL and the commissioner? i have always actually liked commissioner goodell but the events of this CBA/lockout fiasco has not shown him in a positive light.

  35. blacktoothgrinn says: Apr 6, 2011 4:09 PM

    tommyf15 says:
    Apr 6, 2011 3:42 PM
    What an absurd analogy. 13 year olds have very few rights. They’re instructed on what time to go to bed, how late they can stay out, what they can watch on TV, etc. No adult, including a football player, should be held to that standard.

    ________________________

    The 18, 25, and 30 year olds in the olympics get tested too so your point is invalid. 13 year old amature olympic athletes have to get tested to make sure nobody has an unfair advantage. NFL players use HGH to get bigger, stronger, and faster which equals an unfair advantage.
    I think it should all be legal, but that’s not how our society is set up, and NFL players have to abide by the rules set up by their employer. I generally agree with the union, but not on this one. Boss says get tested, you get tested.

  36. stephen02120 says: Apr 6, 2011 4:14 PM

    The owners want the players to open their veins. The players want the owners to open their books. I’m interested to see who has the most to hide.

  37. whatevnfl says: Apr 6, 2011 4:15 PM

    What kind of argument is that…Football players ask: if nba players get guaranteed contracts, why can’t they?

  38. paperlions says: Apr 6, 2011 4:32 PM

    If there is not an effective HGH test (and there is not), why does the NFL want to waste millions of dollars each year on ineffective tests?

    Even if players were dumb enough to use HGH, which has no positive effect on a healthy adult, the tests still won’t catch it unless they happen to test them within 2 hrs of the player taking it….which is a near impossibility.

    The current HGH test has still resulted in exactly zero positive HGH test results in the tens of thousands of athletes that have been submitted to it…..maybe because no one useless the useless (to healthy athletes) stuff….maybe because it simply is not an effective test.

  39. tommyf15 says: Apr 6, 2011 4:34 PM

    blacktoothgrinn says:
    The 18, 25, and 30 year olds in the olympics get tested too so your point is invalid. 13 year old amature olympic athletes have to get tested to make sure nobody has an unfair advantage. NFL players use HGH to get bigger, stronger, and faster which equals an unfair advantage.
    I think it should all be legal, but that’s not how our society is set up, and NFL players have to abide by the rules set up by their employer. I generally agree with the union, but not on this one. Boss says get tested, you get tested.

    1. *I* didn’t compare 13-year olds to the players. An NFL spokesman did.

    2. The NFL has a union that can say “no” to testing, unlike “amature olympic athletes”.

    3. “Boss says get tested, you get tested”? Obviously not- testing in all league is subject to collective bargaining. The players have the right to say no.

  40. prior0knowledge says: Apr 6, 2011 4:40 PM

    because NFL players get injured constantly sometimes slightly and sometimes severely, I think HGH should be allowed so that players can heal quicker.

    Make it permitted only during the season so that it can’t be used to bulk up, only to heal.

    Why not?

  41. tombradyswig says: Apr 6, 2011 4:42 PM

    Carson palmer will retire if this happens!

  42. holdthemayo123 says: Apr 6, 2011 4:47 PM

    Having someone watch you pee seems a lot more invasive than getting some blood drawn.

  43. rando74 says: Apr 6, 2011 4:58 PM

    Q: If figure skaters will submit blood tests, why won’t players?

    A: For the same reason Shawn Kemp and Travis Henry dont like to take DNA tests.

  44. FoozieGrooler says: Apr 6, 2011 5:08 PM

    jamie54 says: Apr 6, 2011 3:09 PM

    “If you have nothing to hide, what’s the harm?”

    It used to be in this country that you were innocent until proven guilty.

    Now the “powers-that-be” are working us over and slowly convincing us that we have to prove our innocence.

    And it’s working. (see above)
    what a shame…

  45. tommyf15 says: Apr 6, 2011 8:45 PM

    jamie54 says: Apr 6, 2011 3:09 PM
    “If you have nothing to hide, what’s the harm?”
    It used to be in this country that you were innocent until proven guilty.
    Now the “powers-that-be” are working us over and slowly convincing us that we have to prove our innocence.
    And it’s working. (see above)
    what a shame…

    Agreed 100%. While I accept that the NFL needs some sort of steroid testing for PR purposes alone, there’s no need for Goodell to create another scandal (well, it’s what he does best) by pressuring the players into further testing.

    There’s a lot more you can find out from a fellow’s blood than just whether or not he’s sucking down HGH lollipops. Is it also alright for the NFL to check your cholesterol? Can they check for STDs? Can they see what other legal, necessary prescriptions you’re on? Can they check other genetic factors they might feel will shorten a guy’s career or long-term effectiveness?

    When one hands over their blood they’re opening themselves up to giving away A LOT of private information. The players should hold vigilant and tell Goodell to forget it, and that they won’t even negotiate on this.

  46. leftcoastnative says: Apr 6, 2011 9:19 PM

    How can players complain about blood being drawn when it already is for cholesterol; LDL; HDL; triglycerides; PSA, etc.

    The reason players object is because it currently is impossible to discern the presence of HGH with present CBA rules; therefore, players have been able to get away with using it without detection. How do you explain all of these 256 pound players who have 6 or 7% body fat and look like underwear models instead of football players?

  47. irishjackmp says: Apr 6, 2011 10:15 PM

    Wow… a 37 year old wide receiver still playing in the NFL (and putting up productive numbers no less) at an age long past when most wide receivers have undergone a steep decline in their physical skills is adamant about not wanting to undergo an HGH test.

    Consider me shocked.

    So, when HGH testing is instituted, there are only three possibilities…

    1) Mason magically undergoes a steep physical decline in training camp and the Ravens cut him, or,

    2) He sees the writing on the wall and decides to retire so “he can spend more time with his family”, or,

    3) He tries to beat the test, fails, and calls a press conference to blame it on “tainted” over the counter supplements.

    This should be fun to watch.

  48. admirebucs says: Apr 9, 2011 1:05 PM

    Its about time that pro sport in the US start getting on pace with the rest of the world in regards to testing.

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