With major-league baseball implementing random blood testing for HGH, the NFL and the NFLPA are facing extra pressure regarding their lingering failure to do the same.
The two sides agreed to HGH testing as part of the August 2011 labor deal, but they have not been able to agree on a protocol for testing. Now, in an email to all NFLPA-certified contract advisors, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith says that football could have been first.
“As you may have heard, MLB and MLBPA reached a collectively bargained agreement with respect to in-season testing for hGH,” Smith says. “Critical components of their agreement include: 1) MLB’s Commissioner’s Office must establish the accuracy and reliability of each allegedly positive test; 2) Players may present any evidence to challenge the accuracy, reliability, and thus the underlying scientific support for the test; and 3) all appeals are decided by neutral arbitrators. If the NFL had adopted the same positions that Major League Baseball has, the NFL could have been the first to implement hGH testing.”
This explanation seems to overlook the lingering fight regarding the proposed testing method. The NFLPA has, among other things, insisted on a “population study” aimed at determining the acceptable amount of naturally occurring HGH in football players. The NFLPA and NFL have been unable to resolve those concerns, despite periodic Congressional intervention.
It’s possible that Smith contends the NFLPA would agree to HGH testing if the appeal process gave each player the right to attack the overall validity of the testing. But it would make no sense to have NFL players give blood for an analysis that the NFLPA views as fundamentally defective and inherently unreliable.