Posted by Ryan Wilson
Days before the players agreed to the new collective bargaining agreement, but after the owners had already voted to ratify their version of it, NFL attorney Jeff Pash told the New York Daily News 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 said on July 21. "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. "
On Tuesday, Judy Battista of the New York Times reported that "The NFL, whose new collective bargaining agreement is expected to be completed and ratified by Thursday, could begin blood testing for human growth hormone as soon as September, according to a person briefed on the negotiations who was not authorized to speak publicly, making it the first major North American sports league to conduct such testing on its top players with the union’s consent."
The potential bump in the road? Assuming that the new CBA will be completed and ratified by Thursday. CBSSports.com's Will Brinson wrote earlier Wednesday that some players "doubt" a CBA will be ratified in time, although CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman hears that there's nothing to worry about and everything is still on track.
The NFLPA has long opposed testing, citing concerns about reliability and calling the process "invasive," but Battista writes that both NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "have long seen a need for growth hormone testing and want to cast the NFL as a leader in combating drugs in major sports. … Details to be worked out include how many players will be tested for performance-enhancing drugs and how they would be randomly selected when drug testing resumes. There was no drug testing of any kind conducted during the lockout."
In July, Pash suggested that while there were some issues that needed to be ironed out, "we would hope that [testing] could be ramped up by the start of the season." On Tuesday, he sounded similarly encouraged, even if the testing is pushed back a few weeks. “I think both sides have a commitment to being leaders in this area and to having the best possible program and they recognize that having testing for growth hormone is part of having the best program."
NFLPA spokesman George Atallah, however, reiterated that “The players have not agreed to any comprehensive drug testing proposal,” although Freeman notes Wednesday that "One of the things the two sides have been doing is working on HGH testing. Once that is wrapped up the CBA will be finalized."
And then, hopefully, we won't have to hear the words "lockout" and "collective bargaining agreement" for at least a decade.
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