NFL has agreed to arbitration for all positive PED tests

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Lost in Thursday’s back-and-forth between the NFL and the NFLPA regarding HGH testing is one fairly important point.  The league has agreed to use third-party arbitration not only for HGH testing but also for all other forms of PED testing.

Both the NFL and the NFLPA have informed PFT that a deal on HGH testing would include arbitration for positive HGH results and other positive test results for performance-enhancing drugs.  The lone sticking point remains the NFL’s desire to keep the appeal rights for violations arising from something other than a positive test in the hands of the Commissioner.

The negotiations, occurring primarily in connection with HGH testing, encompass the entire PED policy because HGH is considered to be a performance-enhancing substance.  Changes to the league’s substance-abuse policy, which covers recreational drugs like marijuana, are being separately negotiated.

While the NFL has made a major concession by sacrificing the Commissioner’s exclusive ability to resolve suspensions arising from PED’s other than HGH, the NFL doesn’t seem to be inclined to budge on the matter of violations flowing from something other than a positive test.

“We’re talking about something that has been under the Commissioner’s authority for 50-plus years,” NFL senior V.P. of labor policy and government affairs Adolpho Birch told PFT by phone on Thursday afternoon.  “It was something reaffirmed and agreed to by the union in the 2011 CBA.  It is something that affects five percent or less of all matters that arise as violations under our policy.”

From the NFLPA’s perspective, insisting on arbitration isn’t about protecting wrongdoers (as the NFL has suggested) but protecting those who may be wrongfully accused.

And so HGH testing remains delayed because the NFL doesn’t want to yield on something that, by its own admission, happens in one out of 20 cases, or fewer.  But if discipline for PED violations absent a positive test are so rare, why should either side dig in?

One potential solution would be to give the Commissioner preliminary appeal rights, with a third party reviewing the decision under a looser standard of review.  This would give the players an extra layer of protection if, for example, Goodell’s decision were clearly erroneous, an abuse of discretion, and/or arbitrary and capricious.

Absent a compromise on that point, the NFL and NFLPA will continue to be at impasse as to the implementation of an agreement reached more than two years ago.

19 responses to “NFL has agreed to arbitration for all positive PED tests

  1. Don’t know about the rest of you, but I am tired of these battles between players and Owners on who is right about what. What I want to hear is both sides saying “We did what was best for the game”.

    Getting the testing done is what is good for the game. The rest of this nonsense is just white noise/saber rattling by each side.

    Just get it done, get the cheaters out, and lets get back to football.

  2. If the rest of the NFL followed our lead better, this would be a very competitive league. Unfortunately, they don’t, so we have been the most dominant franchise of the Super Bowl era.

    Get with it.

  3. I thought yesterday’s story was that the nfl wanted only arbitration for only positive test and the nflpa wanted for all testing?

    Today, the nfl agrees with their stance yesterday. This stuff is silly.

    Who pays for the arbitraors? They still gotta be paid by someone.

  4. How could one be “wrongly accused” when their urine is dirty? Positive tests are routinely repeated to reduce the risk of lab error. I see this as a blatant attempt to “lawyer up” to avoid agreed upon penalties for PEDs and street drugs.

  5. You think baseball has it bad, this could get ugly for the NFL. You know there is a lot of that stuff going on

  6. The whole testing and review process is nothing more than a sham to get congress off their backs.

    1. Let the players know a “population study” is coming to see if “players as professional athletes have higher levels of naturally occurring HGH” well ahead of the study itself so they can all juice up like mad and raise that so called “natural level of HGH” to a point that virtually no one will ever fail it.

    2. After the sure to be very high levels that that population study will generate, even those few who juice up with it so massively that they would still fail, now there’s arbitration involved that will almost certainly favor the players and the league by declaring as many of those who do fail not guilty for some sham reason or another.

    What a joke.

  7. The NFL will gladly give up the arbitration authority for positive tests since it will difficult for the arbitrator to rule in favor of the player. They want to keep the authority for other violations so that no one can question their subjective decisions.

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