With negotiations seemingly at an impasse, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday the league will go no further in making concessions to try and enact a human growth hormone testing program with the NFL Players Association.
“We’ve compromised as much as we can compromise, I think, within reason to still have a program that has credibility,” Goodell said at NFL headquarters in New York City. “We think it’s time.”
The two sides have worked to finalize a policy that would better police and discourage use of that performance-enhancing drug. It seemed a deal was on the horizon in early August when the NFL and NFLPA agreed to the parameters of a testing program.
However, a sticking point remains on how the appeals process will be handled for players who fall outside the realm of a positive test — such as an HGH-related arrest or involvement in a scandal like the one that hit Major League Baseball with the Biogenesis clinic.
The NFL wants Goodell to retain authority over those appeals; the NFLPA wants a neutral arbitrator.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith issued this statement to FOX Sports on Wednesday: "What does neutral arbitration add but more credibility? The majority of the policy that they already agreed to allows the Commissioner to impose discipline but an appeal is subject to neutral arbitration if the player so chooses. The players don’t want an exception to the rule."
The league and players union contracted to enact an HGH-testing policy as part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement reached in July 2011. A host of disputes has stalled implementation, leading to the possibility of Congressional involvement if a compromise can’t be reached.
The NFL acknowledged the impasse in its 2013 Health and Safety Report that will be officially released next week. The report, states that “testing has not been implemented yet due to disagreement on key points.”
The report also points out the dangers of HGH use. While its use can lead to faster healing of injuries and improved athletic performance, the report states that HGH “is believed by many doctors to increase the risk of health problems in its users, including diabetes, joint problems and cardiovascular issues.”
“I think we’ve been very open about it,” Goodell said about the league’s HGH testing efforts. “We think it’s best for the players, the game and for kids who are watching these players. It shouldn’t be in the game.
“We educate our players about the dangers of it, but we also have to have a testing program ultimately to make it effective.”