On Thursday, the NFLPA made an HGH testing proposal, which commences with a population study of all NFL players aimed at determining the proper range of permissible, naturally-occurring HGH in their systems.
The proposal, made more than three months after the NFL and NFLPA agreed to conduct HGH testing as part of the new labor deal, has sparked criticism from anti-doping experts.
“The fact that they’re saying this now is an absolute joke,” U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart told Barry Wilner of the Associated Press. “It seems clear now they’re protecting their dirty players by further delaying the implementation of this test and not honoring the agreement they made to start this test at the beginning of the season.”
Per Wilner, experts believe a separate population study isn’t necessary, and that it would require months to complete.
The NFLPA has not reacted favorably to Tygart’s remarks.
“Mr. Tygart has had nothing but a negative influence on this process,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said, via the NFLPA-licensed website ProPlayerInsiders.com. “Now that we know what he thinks of our players, it is clear that his agenda begins and ends with himself. Normally, I would call on him to apologize for calling our men ‘dirty’ but he isn’t worth the effort. We will continue to work on an hGH testing protocol that is fair and transparent.”
A neutral observer could regard Smith’s remarks as the table-turning tactics of a trial lawyer. With the NFL, Congress, the USADA, and the Word Anti-Doping Agency contending that the union is simply trying to delay HGH testing as long as possible, Smith arguably has seized on Tygart’s narrow term — “dirty players” — and broadened it to apply to all players, in the hopes of strengthening the resolve of all players to resist HGH testing.
Given the power of Congress to launch a comprehensive investigation regarding not only the HGH testing impasse but also the use of HGH by NFL players and the manner in which it has been obtained, both the NFL and the NFLPA need to realize that rhetoric and delay will eventually harm everyone’s interests. Players will be exposed to interrogation (and possible criminal charges). The NFL will risk the same stigma that has undermined baseball.
The parties have agreed to conduct HGH testing. More than three months after the agreement was made, the NFLPA proposed for the first time a full population study of all NFL players. Without concluding that the NFLPA is trying to delay the implementation of HGH testing, it’s easy to understand why the NFL, Congress, the USADA, and the WADA believe that’s precisely what’s happening.