WADA backs HGH test against ‘extremist’ NFL union

The World Anti-Doping Agency defended its test for human growth

hormone on Wednesday and accused the NFL players union of being

”extremist” for questioning its validity.

WADA director general David Howman said the union was acting

”the way they’ve operated the last few years” in trying to block

the introduction of HGH testing in the National Football

League.

”I would expect the players association to take a stance which

is extremist,” Howman told The Associated Press in a telephone

interview. ”What we’ve got to do is get to reality and not to a

position that is an extremist position.”

The NFLPA questioned the HGH test again after Tuesday’s ruling

by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the case of Estonian

cross-country skier Andrus Veerpalu.

The court lifted the three-year suspension imposed by the

International Ski Federation on the two-time Olympic champion for

use of HGH, citing ”procedural flaws” in the limits established

by WADA to determine a positive test.

But the three-person CAS panel also said it believed Veerpalu

did take HGH and it backed the WADA testing method as a whole.

”What we have to do is actually look at the decision in a very

calculated, objective fashion,” Howman said. ”What CAS has

decided is that the test is OK and what they want is for there to

be a bigger population-based study in terms of the impact of it.

We’ll take that on board and we’ll go further.”

The NFL players said the decision highlighted its long-running

concerns about HGH testing in pro football.

”For almost two years, the NFL players have fought the NFL and

certain members of Congress who have publicly referred to the

players’ insistence on scientific validity and fairness as

`stalling’ and `posturing,”’ the NFLPA said in a statement

Tuesday. ”Today’s decision validates the players’ demand for

scientific validity, full due process rights, and a transparent

system.”

The NFL responded in a statement that it has been almost two

years since an agreement was reached with the players on testing

but HGH controls still have not started.

”Surprisingly, the union uses this particular decision to

justify and extend into overtime its game of duck and delay,” the

NFL said.

The NFL and the union agreed in principle to HGH testing when a

new 10-year labor agreement was finalized in August 2011. But

protocols must be approved by both sides and the players have

questioned the science in the testing procedures, delaying

implementation.

”There is no contest as to the validity of the test,” Howman

said. ”The test is OK. We have to make that quite strong. There’s

some extra work to be done. In fact, we’ve been doing it and we’ve

been saying we’ve been doing it for the past four or five

years.

”It’s not a surprise to us. It’s just part of what you do in

the evolution of things. If there are more blood tests taken, there

is more information available to us.”

In a prolonged legal battle with the ski federation and WADA,

Veerpalu’s lawyers tried to align him with the NFLPA in contesting

the HGH test.

However, CAS rejected such a link as ”irrelevant to the

question of the test’s validity and reliability” – and suggested

the union was motivated by the labor negotiations.

AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this

report.