With the NFL and NFLPA still unable to come to a final agreement on HGH testing and in light of the fact that the NFLPA already has agreed that players will submit to testing, the NFL has at its disposal several options for enforcing the language of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
And at some point the NFL may use one or more of them.
“Weill will continue to evaluate all of our options,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello (pictured) told PFT by email on Sunday. Though no specific options were identified, the league surely has several available strategies for forcing the NFLPA to honor its agreement. The league could file a grievance under the CBA, or possibly an unfair labor practices charge with the NLRB. If all else fails, the NFL could take the union to court.
Either way, the league must at some point take the initiative to compel the NFLPA to adhere to this commitment, as codified at Article 39, Section 7(b) of the CBA: “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.”
Since August 4, the NFLPA has resisted HGH testing, arguing that the World Anti-Doping Agency’s “population study” of Olympics athletes may not translate to NFL players. Most recently, the NFLPA proposed a population study of all NFL players, which as we’ve previously pointed out would skew the determination of naturally-occurring HGH if the study includes guys who are taking it.
Regardless, both the league and the union risk extensive Congressional involvement, if the two sides can’t work this out on their own, with or without the involvement of a third-party who would interpret and enforce the fairly clear terms of the CBA.