With training camps opening for the fourth time since the NFL and NFLPA agreed to conduct HGH testing, the NFL and the NFLPA have still not implemented HGH testing.
In a letter sent to all players, a copy of which PFT has obtained from a league source, the NFLPA blames the lack of testing on the NFL’s ongoing refusal to “commit to fair due process for players who choose to appeal NFL discipline for alleged drug policies violations.” That refers to the lingering impasse regarding whether the Commissioner will handle the appeals of discipline imposed for violations of the PED and HGH policy arising from something other than a positive test. The union wants the league to extend its willingness to conduct third-party arbitration of positive PED and HGH test results to violations arising from proof of PED or HGH use coming from, for example, a BALCO or Biogenesis-style scandal.
“Players deserve a fair system, similar to Major League Baseball’s, which includes neutral arbitration for all alleged offenses of our drug policies,” the letter explains. “Currently, the NFL has agreed to neutral arbitration for appeals based on an alleged any positive drug test, but the Commissioner wants to act as the arbitrator in the cases where a violation of the policies is not based on a positive tests (e.g., a violation of law involving banned substances or where NFL believes there is material evidence of a violation of law involving banned substances.) Our union is committed to a fair, clean and safe game, but we are also committed to protecting your rights.”
The letter also points out that, because of the disagreement regarding appeal rights, the plug has remain pulled on a population study for determining the normal HGH concentration of NFL players, which then will help determine the permissible limits of HGH in player bodies. Everything else is ready to go.
“[T]he Players and NFL have agreed to hGH testing, including the storage, analysis, timing, and ultimate destruction of blood tests,” the letter states.
But HGH testing still isn’t happening, because the two sides can’t resolve the question of whether violations unrelated to positive tests will stay on the Commissioner’s desk both for the punishment and for the appeal. “[W]e are on the verge of another year without a safer and cleaner game,” the union writes.
If the NFL wants HGH testing as badly as it claims to, why not yield on that last point or at least come up with a fair compromise? While the same argument could be turned against the union, the NFL already has agreed to third-party arbitration for the far more common circumstance of positive test results. What’s wrong with using a neutral third party for all PED and HGH violations?
Meanwhile, the players continue to be on the honor system when it comes to using HGH, which means that they can use it as long as they don’t get caught up in a BALCO or Biogenesis-style scandal. Coincidentally (or not), high school students are using more HGH.