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.”