Next Wednesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will, as expected, convene a hearing on the science necessary for HGH testing in the NFL.
“The hearing continues the Committee’s inquiry into the delay of testing for Human Growth Hormone (HGH) between the National Football League (NFL) and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) both parties agreed to in the Collective Bargaining Agreement,” the Committee said in a news release. “The hearing will focus on the readiness of science to support an HGH testing regime. Members will examine both the science behind HGH testing and the health concerns HGH use poses for professional and young amateur athletes.”
Although the initial report indicated that Dr. Travis Tygart, the head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, will testify, he’s not currently on the list of scheduled witnesses. At that may have something to do with past rhetoric between Tygart and the NFLPA. Tygart has called the union’s position on HGH testing “an absolute joke,” and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has said that Tygart “has had nothing but a negative influence on this process.”
Instead, USADA chief science officer Larry Bowers will testify, along with Dick Butkus, Dr. Lawrence Tybak of the National Institutes of Health, and others.
The hearing will stream live, starting next Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. ET.
Both the NFL and the NFLPA agreed in August 2011 to commence HGH testing in the 2011 football season. It hasn’t happened yet, because the league and the union have yet to agree on the procedures for doing so. The NFL has accused the union of dragging its feet, but the league has done nothing to force the process via any of the available legal means, given that the NFLPA clearly has agreed to proceed with HGH testing.
The problem for all parties concerned is that, once Congress starts sniffing around, all sorts of questions could be raised beyond the science necessary for HGH testing. How many players currently use it? How do they get it? Do teams help them get it?
Thus, the best course of action for both the NFL and the NFLPA would be to finalize an agreement before Congress creates all sorts of unintended consequences for the game.