Union says there might be no HGH testing, at all

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When the NFL and the NFLPA finally worked out the terms of a new labor deal, it widely was reported that the new labor deal would include testing for HGH.  Earlier this month, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello reacted strongly to an article in the New York Times that characterized the new CBA as permitting only annual testing for HGH.

The NFLPA had remained silent on the subject, until now.  NFLPA spokesman George Atallah tells the Times that there might be no HGH testing, at all.

“The truth is that we have not agreed to any of the terms and everything the league has said is what it hopes for,” Atallah said.  “All of those things they are talking about are still open to discussion.”

The new CBA contains the following provision regarding HGH testing:  “The parties confirm that the Program on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances will include both annual blood testing and random blood testing for human growth hormone, with discipline for positive tests at the same level as for steroids.”  Atallah describes this language as an agreement in principle only, and that if an agreement as to the specifics of the testing program and policy can’t be reached, the 2010 version of the policy will remain in effect, with no testing for HGH.

The league disagrees.  In an e-mail to the Times, Aiello writes, “Clearly from this language, both parties have committed to a program that includes blood testing for H.G.H.”  (I’d be shocked if Aiello repeated the Times‘ annoying habit of always putting periods after things like “N.F.L.,” which would mean that the Times edited his quote to conform to its goofy convention.  Then again, Aiello has an even better sense of humor than I think he has.)

Aiello’s interpretation seems to be correct.  Though the specific still need to be determined, the parties have agreed that there will be “annual blood testing and random blood testing for human growth hormone.”  The only question is when and under what circumstances testing will occur.

It means that there may not be game-day testing.  And there may be other limits on the number of tests.  But it doesn’t mean that there won’t be HGH testing.