In August 2011, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to conduct HGH testing. But they still have not agreed to the procedure for conducting HGH testing. Which means that no HGH testing occurs.
The NFL hasn’t pushed the issue very aggressively, in large part because the league realizes that, before the players will have needles stuck into their bodies and blood samples drawn, they have to buy in, completely.
As the 2014 NFL draft approaches, Commissioner Roger Goodell dusts off the issue in an interview with Rich Eisen of NFL Media.
“Well, we believe there’s no reason not to have it,” Goodell said. “We agreed to it in our Collective Bargaining Agreement three years ago. The world has accepted the science. There’s global understanding of that. And the union needs to sign off on that. It’s time to sign off on what we agreed to. They have raised issues. We have addressed all those issues. They’re now raising, from time to time, issues that are completely unrelated to HGH testing. But we think that there’s an obligation to the player’s health and safety that this should be implemented and for the integrity of the league. And maybe more importantly, it would be sending the right message to kids who play our game and every other game. This is not the way you play sports. You play sports by the rules and with fairness at the top of mind.”
His points are valid. But the lingering impasse apparently arises not from the testing protocol, but from whether Commissioner Goodell will have the power to handle the appeals of discipline imposed for violations of the performance-enhancing drug policy based on something other than a positive test, like the outcome of a criminal proceeding. The union wants those appeals to be resolved via arbitration; the league wants those appeals to be resolved by Goodell.
That’s not how Goodell characterized the matters still in dispute.
“[T]hey’ve been unwilling or unable to agree to the testing program,” Goodell said. “And they’ve raised things like population studies; the science is not all the way there. In each one of those cases, they have been addressed either by us or by global standards. HGH testing has been happening on a global basis in other sports, in Olympic sports. That testing is there. There are no more excuses. Either you want to do it or you don’t want to do it. And we clearly, as the NFL, want to do it. And we think it’s best for the players.”
Unless something has changed dramatically since last September, the NFLPA immediately would sign off on HGH testing if the NFL agrees that the third-party arbitration for positive HGH tests would apply to other potential violations of the policy. Frankly, the union’s position isn’t unreasonable. If the league truly wants HGH testing, why not agree to make the appeals of all violations of the policy subject to third-party arbitration?