NFL begins its long-awaited HGH testing program

The NFL will begin testing its players for human growth hormone on Monday, after three years of negotiations between the league and union over testing protocol, punishment and the appeals process.

Each week, five randomly selected players on eight randomly selected teams will have less than one tablespoon of blood drawn as part of the test, according to a source who informed FOX Sports of the process. In the preseason, regular season and postseason combined, approximately 950 players will be tested. In the offseason, an estimated 385 tests will be conducted. The combined estimated total of 1,335 tests is more than three times the number conducted by Major League Baseball (40), though that makes sense given the larger roster sizes for NFL teams.

There will be no testing on game days.

The testing pool consists of players on the 53-man active roster, practice squad and reserve lists who aren’t already subject to reasonable-cause testing, such as those with prior offenses. In the offseason, all 90 players on the roster may be tested.

Suspensions are up to six games for a first violation, depending on the nature of it, 10 games for a second violation and two years for a third violation.

The NFL Players Association secured neutral arbitration for positive tests during the negotiations over the new drug policy. The league retained the commissioner’s authority to discipline players when there is a violation that doesn’t include a positive test (e.g. a legal case in which there’s a conviction for possession of banned substances).

Players have limited rights to appeal based on claims of due process and disparate punishment. Due process appeals are to be expedited and heard by members of the existing CBA appeal panel.