NFL players are sometimes told on Sunday that they’ll be asked to provide a urine sample on Monday. And some drug-testing experts believe that giving advance notice calls into question whether the NFL is making it too easy for cheaters to beat the system.
“If you’re going to do advanced warning, you might as well not test,” David Howman, director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency, told the Wall Street Journal. “Half an hour is a lot of warning. That’s how quickly you can manipulate the tests.”
If a player knows in advance when he’s going to be tested, there are ways for him to cheat the system. For instance, a player could take EPO on Saturday night, knowing that he won’t be tested on Sunday, when it will help him get through the game. By Monday, it could have cleared his system. Advance notice could also help a player get away with cheating by giving them time to dilute his urine, take a masking agent or grab a Whizzinator. That’s why doping experts criticized the NFL in August after Chad Ochocinco revealed that he had been given advance warning about a drug test.
According to the Wall Street Journal account, teams giving players a day’s notice has happened as recently as this year’s playoffs, when the Packers’ head trainer went through the team’s locker room after the win over the Eagles to alert players that they’d need to submit a sample the next day. This despite the fact that the league’s policies say players are to be notified “on the day of the test.”
“It’s obviously concerning,” said Travis Tygart, head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. “The world knows you can’t give advanced notice for testing for it to be effective.”
But the NFL apparently doesn’t know.