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Tag:HGH
Posted on: January 22, 2012 3:57 pm
 

NFLPA HGH proposal includes in-season testing

The NFLPA is willing to agree to in-season HGH testing. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The ongoing battle between the NFLPA and NFL over the implementation of HGH testing has fallen to the background as the playoffs have heated up, but both sides are still working on getting a plan in place to begin testing for the growth hormone as soon as possible. (Though as we wrote earlier in the year, 2011 isn't happening, obviously.)

CBS Sports Charley Casserly reported on Sunday's version of The NFL Today that the union's latest proposal to the league contains a heretofore unheard of provision: in-season testing for HGH.

"On Friday the NFLPA sent the NFL a new proposal," Casserly reported Sunday. "The highlight to that proposal? They agreed to having testing in-season. In their previous proposals they only had testing in the offseason and at the beginning of training camp."


Testing in the middle of the season is something that has to happen with HGH testing. Otherwise avoiding being caught for HGH is a simple matter of "not using it until you start playing" which kind of defeats the purpose.

So it's good that the union is willing to budge off that stance.

And it'll be even better if the NFLPA budging off that point can get the NFL and WADA to budge off the idea that it's impossible to give the players their own culture sample for studying the level of HGH in NFL players.

Doing so would likely lead to a quicker resolution of this issue.

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Posted on: December 9, 2011 9:06 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 9:09 am
 

NFL: Union 'stalling' on HGH; NFLPA wants clarity

By Will Brinson



The NFL was supposed to have Human Growth Hormone (HGH) testing by the time the 2011 season kicked off, but a difference of opinion between the league and union on the transparency of testing remains a critical sticking point.

Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFL and NFLPA agreed only to "discuss and develop" -- not to actually implement -- a plan for HGH testing in the NFL. So even though the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is prepared to begin testing, until the union approves the testing procedure, there's little the league can do outside of posture to make testing a reality.

The NFLPA wants to see the specifics of WADA's population studies as they relate to the organization's test. WADA believes their basic test for HGH is an acceptable standard already. And the NFL thinks the union is simply "stalling."

"There is no debate among the experts about the validity of the test," NFL VP of communications Greg Aiello told CBSSports.com Thursday. "The union is simply continuing to engage in stalling tactics."

The NFLPA's argument isn't against the validity of the test, however, but rather the transparency involved in creating the baseline standards for determining what players took HGH.

"Nobody knows what goes into the WADA standard of how they adjudicate players who have apparently or been told they take HGH," NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said recently at NFLPA headquarters. "So if we are going to go to a system where our guys are going to be measured against a standard we can't see and a standard that we can't challenge, if you were in my job would you recommend doing that? No."


Because HGH is a naturally occurring substance within the human body, testing whether or not an individual is using the hormone anabolically isn't as simple as drawing blood and detecting a presence of HGH. It exists in the bodies and blood of NFL fans as much as it does NFL players.

The issue at hand for the NFL and NFLPA, then, is determining what the baseline level of HGH in a "normal" football players is, and then using that to move forward in testing players. One problem -- WADA not only will not provide a separate population study for NFL players, but the organization believes the NFLPA's running with ulterior motives when it comes to roadblocking the test.

"The players are making a very good go of trying to say it is a problem by not agreeing to be tested. I would have thought if there wasn't a problem, they would say, 'Hey, test us,'" WADA director general David Howman said at a recent anti-doping conference. "If you've got nothing to hide, open up."

According to Smith, however, the players did offer to "open up," and test NFL players to create a separate population study by which to judge players who test positive.

"We said, fine, if you don't want to turn over that information, here's what we'll do," Smith said. "We will test the players themselves, create our own population study, where we can know it, we can see it and we can see the standard. And then after that we can see the standard and we will know whether or not that standard is applicable and we can ensure that standard is scientifically reliable."

WADA declined the NFLPA's offer, in part, because the organization believes its current test ("in operation since 2004" according to WADA's Senior Manager Media Relations and Communications Terence O'Rourke) provides an acceptable standard by which to measure the level of HGH in any athlete, including football players.

"Based on the concept of the test, there is no reason to believe that American footballers behave any differently than the tens of thousands of athletes being subject to this HGH test," O'Rourke told CBSSports.com. "Please note that this individual information has no bearing on the validity of the test. That is why there is absolutely no point in conducting another sample study."

Complicating the problem is the appeals process for players who test positive for HGH. If the news is discovered (and/or the player is suspended), there's already a public backlash waiting to happen. And as we've seen with numerous instances of cycling over the past few years, positive tests can devolved into ugly he-said-type public-relations battles.

The good news is that there's an available remedy.

"Athletes do NOT appeal to WADA, they appeal either to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) or, at national level, to a suitable independent and impartial body as outlined in Article 13.2.2 of the [World Anti-Doping Code]," O'Rourke told CBSSports.com. (You can find the code here in .PDF format.)

If the parties involved were able to reach a comprimise on what might qualify as a "suitable independent and impartial body" there's a chance the implementation of HGH testing could be expedited.

But as we've seen with player discipline, finding an impartial group of people who don't have an opinion about the NFL one way or another is a pretty difficult thing to do.

So as it stands right now, there's little chance that the NFL sees HGH testing in the immediate future, with the 2011 season almost entirely off the table at this point.

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Posted on: December 8, 2011 9:17 am
 

Pick-Six Podcast: George Atallah + Thurs Preview

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Despite there being no lockout, the NFLPA's been under fire for a number of issues (a lack of HGH testing, the suspensions of some Redskins, Cedric Benson) and union spokesman George Atallah was kind enough to join the show in break down where the union stands on those issues.

We also discuss in depth some of the issues surrounding HGH testing and whether or not it's a viable option for 2011.

Then Ryan and Will break down the Thursday night matchup between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, wondering if the Browns have any shot at all to upset the Steelers and if the trade that gave Atlanta Julio Jones (and the Browns Greg Little) is already a bust for Cleveland, and if Pittsburgh is the best team in the AFC.

The guys also break down Archie Manning's latest comments about Peyton and Andrew Luck and how they relate to the Colts future.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: November 11, 2011 9:05 am
 

NFLPA explains position on HGH testing

Smith, GoodellPosted by Josh Katzowitz

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is still on his quest to bring HGH testing to the NFL, saying Wednesday, “We're completely focused on that. We think it's the right thing to do. We agreed to it. We think it's the right thing to do for player safety. We think it's important for the credibility of the game."

Yet, it’s been made clear the NFLPA isn’t on the same wavelength.

But why? The two sides already agreed to the testing in the newest Collective Bargaining Agreement (you remember that somewhat-important document that consumed the offseason, right?), so why is the union making everything so difficult?

Let the NFLPA explain in this Pro Players Insider piece:
While the NFLPA is committed to player health and safety, a fair and transparent testing protocol is also necessary to maintain the integrity of the game and the due process rights of its players.

In Article 39, Section 7 (b) of the CBA, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to “discuss and develop … the safe and secure collection of samples, transportation and testing of samples, the scope of review of the medical science and the arbitrator review policy.”

So, the NFLPA is saying it didn’t agree to HGH testing. Instead, the union claims it agreed to talk about starting HGH testing.

And until the union receives assurances on a few matters, it looks like it won’t be agreeing to anything anytime soon.

For instance, the biggest issue is “the lack of transparency at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the only group that has developed an isoform test for exogenous (non-naturally occurring) HGH which, unlike naturally occurring HGH, can be injected into the body.

“WADA has adamantly declined to provide population and validation studies, and its test radically differs from those for other performance-enhancing drugs because if a blood sample surpasses a predetermined HGH limit, it’s declared a positive without allowing for a naturally occurring result. And yet, the NFL’s proposed appeal process bars players from challenging the science behind WADA’s test which has been in use for less than two years, not long enough to be certain that it has not generated false positives.”

Basically, the NFLPA says that the man who developed the test that WADA uses has talked about his concern for false positive tests and that the factors contributing to a false positive are gender, age, body composition, and the effects of “acute and chronic exercise.” Therefore, the NFLPA says that because NFL players have been known to exercise from time to time, this puts them at greater risk for a false positive. That’s why the NFLPA wants, in its own words, “to have full access to the makeup of the testing population from which blood samples were obtained in order for WADA to set the decision limit.”  
 
Goodell disagrees, calling the proposal “a valid test,” and it seems like this is an impasse that might take some time to clear.

Even though the supposed 10 years of labor peace hasn’t been so peaceful thus far, thank the heavens that HGH testing is not an issue that could destroy an NFL season. It’s just kind of annoying.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: November 10, 2011 11:36 am
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Second-half predictions

Green Bay is being predicted to win the Super Bowl (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

We’re halfway through the season, and since so few of my preseason predictions will come true (seriously?!? The Rams to win the NFC West? Chris Johnson as the comeback player?), I’ve decided to give it another go in hopes that I don’t have to bring my prediction machine into the shop for a tune-up.

Aside from our new, guaranteed to be true picks (you can also check out our CBS expert chat from Wednesday in that link), I’m going out on a limb with this Top Ten with a Twist and giving you 10 predictions that I know in my heart of hearts WILL happen the rest of the season.

Because the great thing about working for a national website, as opposed to a newspaper that gets filed into the recycling bin as soon as you’re done reading it, is that there’s no way anybody will ever know if your predictions turn out to be crap. Oh, wait …

10. The Bills will fall apart: One of the league’s most surprising teams -- though Fred Jackson says you shouldn’t have been THAT surprised by it -- played perhaps its worst game of the season against the wrong opponent last week, losing to the Jets at home and falling into a tie for first place in the AFC East with the Jets and Patriots. Buffalo has to play both teams once more, and though Buffalo should finish with a winning record, that won’t be enough to finish ahead of New England and New York and make the playoffs.

9. The Lions won’t: Detroit’s success hasn’t been nearly as surprising as Buffalo’s, but the fact Detroit is 6-2 through the first half of the season isn’t something we’re used to seeing. But the Lions are legitimately a playoff team. They’re third in the league in points scored -- that can happen when your former No. 1 pick stays healthy (so far) and your top-notch wide receiver scores touchdowns by the bushel. The Lions, even though Ndamukong Suh hasn’t been at his best, still maintain a top-10 defense. Though the second-half schedule is tough, Detroit has a good chance of knocking off Green Bay (the two teams play twice), and if the Lions can stay ahead of the Bears, one wild card spot will be waiting for them.

8. New England will right the ship: The Patriots, despite losing their past two games and looking bad in the process, should still make the playoffs. So, from that aspect, they’ll be good enough. Just not as good as they usually are. That’s because their defense is a major problem (Albert Haynesworth, you’ll recall, was on the roster for eight weeks), and it’s unclear how New England will fix it. But the offense is good enough to survive the second half of their schedule. They won’t get a first-round bye, and they probably won’t survive wild card weekend. So, the season basically will be an abject failure in New England’s eyes.

7. The Colts will win a game (or two): Indianapolis will not be the second team in NFL history to go 0-for-16 on the year. Already, they’ve lost four games by eight points or less, and yes, even though that 62-7 loss to the Saints was ridiculous, Indianapolis (and quarterback Curtis Painter) is good enough to win at least one. It could happen this week vs. the Jaguars at home or at Jacksonville in Week 17, and a win against the Panthers is not completely out of the question. The point is: a team that plays the Steelers to within three points isn’t the worst team in the history of the league. Even if the Colts are the last winless team in the NFL this season.

Sparano6. Jim Irsay will break Caldwell’s firing on Twitter: Irsay has to be my favorite NFL owner of all time, simply because he gets the power of social media. Sure, most of the time he’s tweeting obscure lyrics from Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut album or pretending to look for Brett Favre in Hattiesburg, Miss., but Caldwell also will be the first owner in history to break the news on his own Twitter account that he’s firing his coach. John Elway has been great on Twitter as well, but Elway also has a boss. That’s not a problem for Irsay.

5. Tony Sparano will last the season: I don’t know if Jim Caldwell will make it to the season’s end with the Colts, but I’m thinking Sparano will do exactly that. The team is still playing hard -- and how about the Dolphins beating the crap out of the Chiefs in Kansas City last week? -- and though the talent is lacking in that organization (how much can be blamed on the departed Bill Parcells?), they still believe in Sparano. If the Dolphins can pull of another couple wins, hopefully owner Stephen Ross will let him last through the season. After the emasculation Ross put him through in the offseason, Sparano deserves that much at least.

4. HGH testing won’t be around in 2011: We told you about a month ago that the NFL’s HGH testing was a go and that it very well could start within that week. That was quickly disputed by the NFLPA -- which claims that nobody has explained to the union exactly how the tests will be conducted -- and here we are, nearly a month later, and nothing has happened. As NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman, “We have an agreement to test for HGH. What we don't have an agreement on is the process and the protocol to implement the test.” Considering the glacial pace at which the two sides moved when the 2011 season was at stake, I don’t expect the league to start testing until next season. If then.

3. Carson Palmer will be better than average: That’s not exactly a high bar to jump over, but considering he wasn’t even that in his final seasons for the Bengals, this would be an improvement. Palmer had a rough outing in his first action, replacing Kyle Boller in the second half of the Chiefs game, but he showed some of the Palmer of old, throwing three touchdowns (and three more interceptions) in the loss to the Broncos. Will Palmer be worth the two high-round draft picks the Raiders gave to the Bengals for him? Probably not, but Palmer will keep the Raiders in the playoff hunt.

2. Wade Phillips will save Gary Kubiak’s job: The Texans defensive coordinator is well on his way to doing exactly that for Houston’s head coach. Because, at this very moment, the Texans defense is ranked No. 1 in the NFL. You remember what they were last year, right? No. 30. Hiring Phillips might be the best move Kubiak ever made, and Phillips is repaying him by recreating a defense that will lead Houston to the playoffs and keep Kubiak safely employed.

1. Packers will win Super Bowl: I mean, who else is there?

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Posted on: October 20, 2011 12:30 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 12:32 pm
 

Barkley: Those busted for PEDs are idiots (VIDEO)

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

We’ve discussed recently when, where and how the NFL is going to start testing for human growth hormone -- our colleague Mike Freeman has done an especially nice job with the reporting of this topic -- and in response, Showtime’s Inside the NFL crew welcomed Charles Barkley to a roundtable discussion about HGH and other performance-enhancing drugs.

It’s an interesting talk that you can see in the video below, and the always-outspoken Barkley makes some strong points.

“Any player who gets busted using performance-enhancing drugs is just an idiot,” he said. “No. 1, it’s illegal. It’s wrong. But if you get caught now, you know it’s coming. I mean, it would just make you an idiot.”

And more!

“Let me tell you something: when I saw that last week that they’re going to start testing next week, (I thought) there wasn’t a chance in the world. Some of those guys are cheating, and the union is going to protect them. They’re not going to let them start testing for HGH next week.”

And if you click the video, you get this nugget from Warren Sapp when he says his teammates who used steroids stood out “like a turd in a punch bowl.” So, you should probably click the video.



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Posted on: October 14, 2011 1:29 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 2:48 pm
 

HGH testing a go, unclear when it will start

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

UPDATED 2:45 p.m. ET: OK, so HGH testing might not come quite as early as we orginally thought.

As CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reports, the two sides have agreed to testing but not to when that testing will start.

"We have an agreement to test for HGH," union spokesman George Atallah told Freeman. "What we don't have an agreement on is the process and the protocol to implement the test."

----------

On Thursday, CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman reported that leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee had called for a meeting between the NFL and the NFLPA to update the government on the status of HGH testing.

Sounds like that bit of action has led to a major development in the world of NFL drug testing.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tweeted Friday that the NFL and the NFLPA will begin human growth hormone testing as soon as possible. He later told Freeman that the testing will begin as early as one week from today.

It is a long time coming.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: August 25, 2011 9:06 am
Edited on: August 25, 2011 10:40 am
 

Still no agreement on HGH testing

Goodell, SmithPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Lost in all the hubbub of the preseason (We’ve got football back, y’all!) and the back-patting that came out with the emergence of the new CBA was that there were still some unresolved issues that the owners and the newly-reformed players union would have to negotiate and agree upon before everybody could truly move forward.

One of those issues is the introduction of HGH testing.

The NFL has thought along that the testing for human growth hormone was necessary, and Roger Goodell was touting all the way back in March that the owners were “going to ensure it gets done.” The NFLPA, on the other hand, has gone on record as far back as 2006, saying testing for HGH (involving taking blood from players) was too invasive.

On Wednesday, the two sides met with the World Anti-Doping Agency in Montreal, and as the Washington Post writes, the NFLPA was unsatisfied with how blood testing on players would be conducted. Naturally, no agreement has been reached, and the union still has questions about the reliability of the tests and what kind of rights the players have not to be stuck with needles.

HGH Testing
“We have an obligation as a union to protect the integrity of the game,” said George Atallah, an NFLPA spokesman. “But we are disappointed in the lack of transparency related to the fundamental information required to begin HGH testing … As soon as there is a fair, safe and reliable testing protocol that’s rooted in science” the union will agree to testing.

The “rooted in science” quote is interesting, considering David Howman, the WADA director general, told the Post that “all the scientists in the room” thought the testing process was clear-cut and that the union was taking “a very strange approach” to the issue if the players, in fact, want HGH testing.

As CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman writes today, “For a system to be inserted it had to be done by the season opener. Well, according to one official close to the talks, that seems unlikely. Things could easily change and the two sides still have several weeks to work something out but the union remains unconvinced, I'm told, about the accuracy of the test.”

Do the players even want testing? I’m not sure. The union might talk a good game about having to clean up football and making sure nobody is gaining an unfair advantage by using HGH. But the NFLPA has been very slow to come around on this issue, and you have to wonder what exactly it will take for the union to give its OK to HGH testing.

If the World Anti-Doping Agency can’t convince the NFLPA, what will?

UPDATED (10:33 a.m. ET): To answer that question, perhaps we can glean the answer from this passage in an APstory (emphasis mine).
Among those representing the union were outside counsel Maurice Suh, who represented disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France win for doping, and scientists Paul Scott, Tim Roberts and Dennis Crouch of Aegis Lab in Nashville.

The NFLPA had asked WADA for information on how the testing works, the rate of reliability and for data on the safety of the HGH test. The person said none of that information was made available Wednesday.

Another person familiar with the talks, however, said Scott, Roberts and Crouch were given an opportunity to ask questions after getting a summary of data from WADA, but did not.

According to a CBSSports.com source, the NFLPA asked for this information (how the test works and other data points) weeks ago but has yet to receive an answer. That apparently is the big reason why the NFLPA is still hesitant to agree to this kind of testing right now.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com