Earlier today, Representatives Darrell Issa (R-Cal.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) announced that the NFL will begin HGH testing as early as next week.
Key words: “as early as.”
Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports that, after Friday’s meeting on Capitol Hill, NFLPA representatives said that they don’t expect testing to begin until players are satisfied that the blood test for HGH is “reliable and safe.” Safety, however, wasn’t one of the issues identified by NFLPA spokesman George Atallah during a Thursday phone interview.
Atallah said that the union has no concern regarding the safety or accuracy of the test currently endorsed by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and that the issue at this point relates to the manner in which WADA determined, based on the concentration of naturally-occurring HGH in the systems of athletes in other sports, the acceptable level of HGH in football players. There’s no indication that Friday’s meeting led to any resolution of this specific issue.
Per Maske, the two sides are due to meet with Issa and Cummings again, within the next 30 days. That fact, in and of itself, suggests that the controversy wasn’t resolved in a couple of hours at Congress.
The league, which was represented at the meeting by Roger Goodell and Jeff Pash (pictured), along with Adolpho Birch, has issued no statements regarding today’s meeting. Still, Goodell and Pash said after the meeting that HGH testing will commence in seven to 10 days.
According to FOXSports.com (via SportsBusiness Daily), the current status of the parties’ accord seems to be that samples will be collected and tested as the parties continue to negotiate regarding the manner in which the results will be interpreted. “We are not guaranteeing any outcome other then there was an agreement to begin testing immediately,” Issa said, per FOXSports.com. “The other aspects on what to do with the tests will be resolved over the next many weeks.”
That position accounts for the union’s concerns regarding the permissible concentration of naturally-occurring HGH in football players, and confirms that the current sticking point actually isn’t safety or accuracy, regardless of what the union representatives said after the meeting.