One of the primary flaws in the NFL’s steroids policy comes from the absence of testing for human growth hormone. Instead, the league relies on an honor system, supplemented by physical evidence of use or possession that may fall into the NFL’s hands by random chance or dumb luck. And so the NFL has been trying to get the players’ union to agree to blood testing for hGH, since it can’t be spotted in a urine sample.
The union has resisted, but the pressure continues to mount, especially since the CFL recently has adopted its own blood test for hGH.
The tide may be turning even more strongly against the union’s position, given the reported availability of a “breakthrough” in detecting the substance in blood. According to Eddie Pells of the Associated Press, the new method is expected to become available “soon.”
“The new test, called a bio-markers test, scans the blood for chemicals
the body produces after hGH use, which are detectable for up to two
weeks,” Pells writes. “The test, expected to be available in the
coming weeks or months, is a complement to — or maybe an improvement
over — the current test, called an isoform test, which scans blood for
Urine testing, however, still remains on the distant horizon. “In a perfect world, a urine test would be far easier for us to deal with and administer than a blood test,” NFL V.P. of labor policy and player development Adolpho Birch told Pells. “The problem is, we thought there was some chance a urine test could be developed. That’s increasingly looking less likely. The practical reality is, we need to focus on a test that works, and the test that works is blood.”
And so the issue will be tossed into the list of gives-and-takes that will continue to be hammered out as the NFL and the union try to finalize (or, as the case may be, make any progress on) a new labor deal. And the NFL will continue to hammer away publicly at the issues that will find support with the public. Indeed, both NFLLabor.com and NFL spokesman Greg Aiello (via Twitter) touted the news of the new hGH test.
The union did not respond to requests for comment from the AP. And for good reason.
Really, what would they say? We prefer to let cheaters operate on the honor system?