The NFL and NFL Players Association are on the verge of HGH testing and have been for a while now, with widespread reports that an agreement on the appeals process is what’s holding up the negotiations.
A source further clarified the situation to FOX Sports on Thursday by explaining the league has agreed to the union’s demand for neutral arbitration on appeals of HGH violations in most cases, with a few exceptions.
The source said the league wants to maintain commissioner Roger Goodell’s authority to hear appeals on violations that do not include a positive test, such as a performance-enhancing-drug violation of the law or demonstrated use without a positive test.
What does that mean? Think A-Rod and Biogenesis.
The NFL believes Goodell’s giving up the authority to hear appeals in such cases would be in opposition to the collective bargaining agreement and contrary to a drug policy that’s been in place for 25 years.
The players, on the other hand, believe Goodell has too much power and are therefore eager to take any of it away wherever they can. A source said all 32 of the player representatives who voted on neutral arbitration agreed a third party should hear appeals in all cases.
The source said almost all of those player reps cited Goodell’s attempt to levy severe suspensions in the Bountygate situation as their reasoning behind their votes.
The league is holding firm on this last issue because of concessions already made to the union, which include a population study to determine the standard for HGH levels in an NFL player’s body. The NFLPA has agreed to the protocol for the test and is awaiting Goodell’s final approval so that the study can begin. Once that process is underway, both sides will be closer to full-blown testing.
The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to a system in which 40 players will be randomly selected each week to be tested for HGH. There will be no testing on game days. First-time violators will face a four-game suspension, with the next violation resulting in an eight-game ban. A third positive test will net a player a one-year suspension.
But those guidelines are classified as a tentative agreement until the final issue involving the appeals process is worked out. Once the final issue of Goodell’s authority is resolved, there will likely be a quick move to full-blown HGH testing in the NFL.