NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell discussed the issue of HGH testing recently, saying that the NFL Players Association was raising “issues that are completely unrelated” to testing that have kept it from being implemented and that the union “needs to sign off on it.”
At a meeting with reporters on Wednesday afternoon in Manhattan, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and NFLPA President Eric Winston had a different point of view. They both say that the league is standing in the way of implementation of testing as the sides are in agreement on everything outside of the league’s desire to avoid neutral arbitration in cases involving players adjudicated criminally or civilly of violations of the drug policy and those involving players disciplined because of evidence other than a positive test.
Winston said Goodell’s insistence on being the final voice of any disputes is the only remaining sticking point.
“If [Goodell] wanted HGH testing as bad as he wants to retain his power, then we would have had testing last year,” Winston said. “At the end of the day, that’s what this is about. He wants to hold all the cards. He wants to be the judge, jury and executioner. The players aren’t going to go for an un-American system like that and I’m not going to allow them to go for an un-American system like that.”
Both men pointed to the league’s handling of the bounty case involving the Saints as an example of why they believe neutral arbitration is so important and Smith cited baseball’s acceptance of the process that led to a neutral arbitrator’s ruling in the Alex Rodriguez case as an example of how arbitration can work in a professional sports league. Smith said the union has “tremendous resolve” on the issue, which suggests a resolution that leads to the implementation HGH testing will remain out of reach as long as the arbitrator issue is outstanding.