The NFL and NFL Players Association are working toward an agreement on HGH testing and have made progress to that end recently by agreeing to a population study, with the union telling the players in an email the expectation is they might soon have to provide blood samples during training camp.
In emails to union representatives earlier this month, the NFLPA wrote that players should be prepared to participate in a population study, which will determine what the "normal" level of HGH in a player’s body should be.
In the meantime, the union and the league will continue to work through the final sticking points in an issue they first agreed to work toward ironing out during the negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement in 2011.
Supplemental HGH is a banned substance that is hard to detect and used by athletes for what are believed to be a variety of benefits, whether real or only perceived — such as increasing speed and improving vision. Among the health problems connected to HGH are diabetes, cardiac dysfunction and arthritis.
The blood samples the players are expected to provide this summer will only serve as a basis for the population study.
"No other use will be made of any blood sample," the union wrote. "After the laboratory has processed all player blood samples, the scientists will perform the calculations and analysis necessary to determine the proper decision limit for NFL players."
In a statement provided by league spokesman Greg Aiello, the NFL said, "We are in active discussions with the NFLPA regarding the implementation of HGH testing for NFL players. Those discussions are focused on a full resolution of any remaining issues, including the role of a population study."
The union and the players haven’t been able to come to an agreement over who will conduct the population study. In the recent emails sent to the players, Dr. Alan Rogol is named as the supervisor of the study. Rogol was hired jointly by the NFL and NFLPA. Donald Berry, Ph.D. "will design the study protocol and conduct the analysis," the union wrote, "and a second biostatisician will independently review both the protocol and the analysis.
That’s one agreement reached, with more needed, including one on discipline. The union has told the players they will vote on any proposals reached by the two sides.
In January, Major League Baseball and the players agreed to HGH blood testing throughout the regular season and to have a World Anti-Doping Agency laboratory in Canada keep records of each player.