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NFLPA makes HGH testing proposal

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Nearly a month removed from a meeting with two members of Congress that resulted in an apparent commitment to commence the collection of blood samples for the purposes of HGH testing, the NFLPA has made a proposal regarding an HGH testing protocol.

Details of the proposal are contained in an item posted at ProPlayerInsiders.com, an official licensee of the NFLPA, which means that it’s essentially an annexation of the NFLPA website.

In a press release masquerading as an article, the NFLPA proposes that the process commence with a population study of all NFL players, in order to establish an HGH testing standard that accurately reflects the naturally occurring HGH in the bodily composition of NFL players.  This goes back to the union’s concern that the World Anti-Doping Agency has developed its testing threshold based on the constitutions of Olympic athletes, including Estonian figure skaters, Korean gymnasts, and Canadian curlers.   (Of course, a population study of NFL players that includes players who are currently taking HGH will skew the numbers, potentially creating a higher threshold.)

The union also proposes six major points:  (1) “Any player found in violation of the hGH policy has the right to all of the testing information”; (2) “The burden of proof rests with the NFL, not the player, as in the American judicial system where the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty”; (3) “The hGH testing process will be overseen by a neutral arbitrator agreed to by the NFL and by the NFLPA”; (4) “That no player shall be punished by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell until all of his appeals have been exhausted”; (5) “The testing and appellate processes shall be confidential until the player’s appeal rights are exhausted”; (6) “Players who are in the midst of the appellate process remain on their teams and continue to play until it has concluded.”

Under pre-existing drug policies, the final three points already apply.  The third point, regarding the use of an independent arbitrator, shouldn’t be an issue, especially if the NFL has contemplated turning over the keys to the entire testing program to WADA.  The first point likewise shouldn’t be a major bone of contention.

The only potential problem applies to the second point, since the NFLPA tries to graft the constitutional protections against the deprivation of liberty onto a private administrative process.  If, as Saints quarterback Drew Brees characterizes HGH testing, it’s a “joint program” between the league and the NFLPA, the NFL shouldn’t bear the burden of proof.  Instead, the process should be about finding cheaters, and the NFL and the NFLPA should be working together hand in hand to deter and detect HGH use.

They’re not.  Even after the signing of a 10-year labor deal, the primary hurdle remains a fundamental lack of trust between the parties, making it harder to have a true partnership when it comes to drug testing.  The article/press release accurately points out the StarCaps case, in which the NFL inexplicably withheld from the players specific information regarding the presence of a banned diuretic in an over-the-counter supplement.  Given the league’s behavior in that case, how can the NFLPA trust the league when it comes to drug testing?

But the NFL also may have trust issues with the NFLPA, arising from the union’s stubborn refusal to honor its agreement to conduct HGH testing.  In this regard, the article/press release badly distorts the language of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, creating the false impression that no agreement on HGH testing has been reached.

Quoting the contents of Article 39, Section 7(b), the article/press release omits the union’s commitment to HGH testing by claiming that the parties agreed to “discuss and develop . . . the safe and secure collection of samples, transportation and testing of samples, the scope of review of the medical science and the arbitrator review policy.”  (Emphasis added by the article/press release.)  This implies that the NFLPA had agreed only to eventually “discuss and develop” the procedures for testing.

The actual language of Article 39, Section 7(b) paints a much different picture:  “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.  Over the next several weeks, the parties will discuss and develop the specific arrangements relating to the safe and secure collection of samples, transportation and testing of samples, the scope of review of the medical science and the arbitrator review policy, with the goal of beginning testing by the first week of the 2011 regular season.”

The selective quoting of the key terms of the CBA undermines the entire article/press release, and it will do nothing to keep Congress from concluding that the NFLPA is merely dragging its feet.  Hopefully, the players realize that Congress eventually will be putting several of them under oath to find out the extent to which HGH is being used.  Hopefully, the NFL realizes the damage that a full-blown investigation could do to the best interests of the game.  To avoid that harm, the NFL should attempt via any available legal means to compel the NFLPA to honor the full content of Article 39, Section 7(b), and not just the narrow portion that the NFLPA saw fit to quote in its press release masquerading as an article.

Absent meaningful steps to get HGH testing in place sooner rather than later, both sides will eventually regret that they didn’t do more to work this out on their own.

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24 Responses to “NFLPA makes HGH testing proposal”
  1. nattyboh says: Nov 10, 2011 4:36 PM

    I personally could care less about HGH. I say let all athletes use HGH. It helps the body recover from injuries.

  2. Land Snark says: Nov 10, 2011 4:45 PM

    The NFLPA will not be too happy once WADA takes over. They don’t play games.

  3. Land Snark says: Nov 10, 2011 4:46 PM

    So do steroids nattyboh. That doesn’t mean it’s not harmful to take or give athlete’s an unfair advantage.

  4. sakatak says: Nov 10, 2011 4:53 PM

    I would like to apply for the job of neutral arbitrator.

  5. Carl Gerbschmidt says: Nov 10, 2011 5:01 PM

    I like Blatz beer, but put an Old Style in my hand and you will know where to find my other hand.

  6. poorlittlepinkus says: Nov 10, 2011 5:03 PM

    This is exactly the reason people despise unions.

  7. steviemo says: Nov 10, 2011 5:04 PM

    As a parent of two college football players, you simply can’t just say “let all athletes use HGH.” That would create a slippery slope down hill to college and high school. Young men would have to use to compete with those who do. When you have sons who play college or even HS sports some day in the future, you’ll know what I mean. Your two choices would correspondingly be: 1) everybody uses (wow) or 2) users play against non-users.

    It is also preposterous to suggest that HGH merely aids “recovery.” That is not true, nor is it consistent with WADA findings. Meanwhile, HGH is a staple for almost every offensive lineman in the NFL, for example, which is why there are now hundreds of 300-380 pound players vs. just a handful 25 years ago.

    Hey, NFLPA: Everyone with a brain knows exactly why you’re dragging your feet on this one. Stop cheating, and then stop lying.

  8. jphoops says: Nov 10, 2011 5:10 PM

    I’ll its blood

  9. castleofcheese says: Nov 10, 2011 5:10 PM

    Cue the Clay Matthews haters.

  10. eagleswin says: Nov 10, 2011 5:15 PM

    The third point, regarding the use of an independent arbitrator, shouldn’t be an issue, especially if the NFL has contemplated turning over the keys to the entire testing program to WADA.

    ——————————

    Are you sure about that? While i have no doubt the league would happily hand the reigns over to WADA on this issue there are several roadblocks the NFLPA can use.

    1. There’s nothing to keep the NFLPA from claiming they can’t find a suitable independent arbitrator.

    2. The union can ignore the arbitrator (see Judge Doty, previous CBA). Whenever the independent arbitrator (agreed to in the last CBA) ruled against the union, the union went crying to Judge Doty who gave the union whatever ruling they wanted, whenever they wanted it, even though the union had agreed to abide by the arbitrator in the CBA.

    I would also hope that the appeals process would be swift or else you can end up with a starcaps case where almost everyone had retired before punishment was levied, rendering punishment useless.

  11. snarkzilla says: Nov 10, 2011 5:26 PM

    Jermichael Finley: “It’s impossible to take steroids in this league for as many times as they test you… If you’ve taken steroids or done any of those kinds of things, they’re going to see it, I guarantee it.”

    John Kuhn: “[Drug testing is] a necessary evil to keep a level playing field.”

    Josh Sitton: “Guys want testing; we want it to be fair. I don’t want to be going against a guy that’s 330 pounds that runs a 4.7 because he’s on steroids or something.”

  12. jakek2 says: Nov 10, 2011 5:27 PM

    This whole thing is a dog and pony show. The players want to take them just as much as the owners want them to take them. The NFLPA’s proposal will accomplish nothing more than giving those unnamed Congressmen something to run on during the next elections.

  13. bigbeefyd says: Nov 10, 2011 5:40 PM

    They should just make them all do HGH and ‘roids. Adjust the dose based on the position. If literally everyone is doing it, it’s not cheating.

  14. contra74 says: Nov 10, 2011 5:46 PM

    Carl Gerbschmidt says:
    Nov 10, 2011 5:01 PM
    I like Blatz beer, but put an Old Style in my hand and you will know where to find my other hand.
    ————
    On Aaron Rodger’s package?

  15. contra74 says: Nov 10, 2011 5:47 PM

    castleofcheese says:
    Nov 10, 2011 5:10 PM
    Cue the Clay Matthews haters.
    ——-
    Hey you brought him up, not me. Is there something you want to say about Mr. Matthews?

  16. bvanbvan says: Nov 10, 2011 6:06 PM

    Yo Gerby…

    Pabst!

  17. broncsfan72 says: Nov 10, 2011 6:14 PM

    lol. Contra doesnt want to talk about hgh. he wants to talk about Rodgers package. hahahahaha!

  18. sakatak says: Nov 10, 2011 6:20 PM

    contra74 says:
    Nov 10, 2011 5:46 PM
    Carl Gerbschmidt says:
    Nov 10, 2011 5:01 PM
    I like Blatz beer, but put an Old Style in my hand and you will know where to find my other hand.
    ————
    On Aaron Rodger’s package?

    _________________________
    Hey contra, I guarantee you will be crying in your beer Monday night.

  19. razic3k says: Nov 10, 2011 6:22 PM

    It’s B.S.

    #1 As a fan, I don’t want to watch cheaters and I am sure honest players don’t want to play against cheaters.

    #2 Just because a player is willing to jeopardize his health/body with steroids, does not mean others do. A clean player should not be forced to use steroids so that he can maintain a certain level of play, so that he can compete, have a job, and provide for himself and his family.

    #3 The NFLPA needs to put a timeframe upon which a decision needs to be made around the arbitrator.

    #4 There should be protections for the NFL to avoid issues like the Starcaps case where it took a couple of years to even enforce a punishment. Players who are caught should be punished in the same season.

  20. pack13queens0 says: Nov 10, 2011 6:42 PM

    HGH testing might get Adrian Peterson suspended.

  21. realitypolice says: Nov 10, 2011 6:50 PM

    Steviemo:

    HGH is a staple for almost every offensive lineman in the NFL, for example, which is why there are now hundreds of 300-380 pound players vs. just a handful 25 years ago.
    ======================

    What complete and utter nonsense.

    If the reason there are more 300 pound lineman in the NFL now is because they are all on HGH then everyone in the world must be on HGH.

    When I played high school football 25 years ago, we had 210 pound defensive linemen. How many high schools have 210 pound linemen today? Does that mean they are all on HGH?

    The research I have done indicates that HGH has little to no benefit for young athletes who are already producing all of the HGH their bodies can use naturally, and that the only possible benefit is injury recovery and even that is in dispute.

    HGH is for people over the age of 35 whose bodies are slowing down their natural production. A healthy 25 year old is wasting his time with HGH.

  22. realitypolice says: Nov 10, 2011 6:54 PM

    To all of you people referencing steroids in their comments:

    You do realize that HGH and steroids have nothing in common?

    That this current debate has nothing whatsoever to do with steroids, which the NFL has been testing for for years?

    That there is no solid evidence that HGH produces steroid-like gains, nor any solid evidence that HGH produces steroid like side effects?

    Just checking. Carry on.

  23. fartography says: Nov 10, 2011 7:01 PM

    Why haven’t we seen this kind of resistance to any other kind of drug testing? This seems like an awful lot of pushback from the NFLPA. Every time a report like this comes out they look more and more like they’re trying to hide something.

  24. warvette says: Nov 10, 2011 8:48 PM

    will caches be subject to these tests? all y’all claming 300+ pounders aren’t natural must not be jets fans…

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