There may not yet be an agreement between the owners and players on a new collective bargaining agreement, but NFL attorney Jeff Pash says that the league not only plans to institute random blood testing for human growth hormone during the 2011 season, but that the NFLPA fully supports it.
"We expect that we will have testing for HGH," Pash told the New York Daily News. "I think that both sides believe that's important for the integrity of the game and that we should continue to be leaders here. I think that's a view that's strongly held by the players as it by us.
"How soon can it happen?" Pash asked. "Some issues needed to be worked out. It will take some time to get that ramped up, but we would hope that it could be ramped up by the start of the season."
In the past, players have opposed blood tests. Former NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw said in 2006 that "It is invasive, and too many things can go wrong with this … You can call me back and tell me where you have a reliable test. A urine test. Then we'll have something to talk about. I'm not interested in turning my players into pin cushions."
And former NFL tight end Mark Breuner, during a 2010 interview with the Washington Post, called the process "extremely invasive ... We have one of the most aggressive, productive drug-testing policies in all of sports. To go to that extreme, I'm not sure that's good for the health of an athlete."
Pash was asked if he believes HGH is widespread among NFL players. "I'm not saying it is rampant in the league," he told the Daily News. "But what I am saying is we should be leaders in ensuring and doing everything we can to promote the integrity of the game and the health of the players, and they agree with that and we agree with that."
In March, FoxSports.com's Alex Marvez reported that Dr. Gary Wadler, who has worked closely with both the World Anti-Doping Agency and White House Office of Natural Drug Control Policy, applauded the NFL's decision to make HGH testing mandatory as part of its labor proposal to the NFLPA. Wadler also said any protests from athletes about the blood work required to conduct the test "border on the nonsensical."
"I'd be very disappointed if the NFL does not get in lock with the rest of the world -- and this goes for (Major League) baseball as well -- and employ blood testing," Wadler said at the time. "Any concerns the athletes have of a needle ... It's almost comical to think a 300-pound athlete is afraid of a little needle prick."
It appears that the NFLPA will not vote Friday on the new CBA, which means we'll have to wait at least one more day to find if, as Pash suggests, the players are on board with random blood tests for HGH.
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