Craig: HGH testing on hold as NFL, union dig in

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 27, 2013 - 6:16 AM

Both sides say they want tests, but a lack of trust is the main obstacle.

hide

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, left, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

Photo: Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said they were close to an agreement that would make the NFL the first U.S. sports league to test for human growth hormone (HGH).

That was 20 months ago. Twenty.

Supposedly, they’re still close. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball whizzed by with a plan in January and the NBA reportedly is getting set to leapfrog as well.

Goodell says the league wants to test ASAP. The union says ditto. But the mistrust between the two sides is paralyzing the process.

“From a players’ standpoint, we want to see the test,” said linebacker Chad Green- way, the Vikings’ union representative. “There’s absolutely no doubt about that. We want an even playing field. I want an even playing field, not even talking from the union side of things. Personally, I think everybody should be on the same field. So if HGH really is running rampant in the NFL — which we won’t know until we find out what the tests are going to show — then let’s get together and eliminate it from the NFL.”

For years, the stumbling block was needles since blood, not urine, is needed to test for HGH, a performance enhancer that theoretically could put both users and non-users at further risk of injuries. Now, the problem basically is neither side will trust the other when it comes to administering accurate tests and providing an appeals process that’s acceptable to both sides.

“We want safe and accurate testing,” said Greenway, who attended the annual union meeting in Nassau, Bahamas, earlier this month. “It has to be safe and accurate because when it comes to appeals in the NFL, they’re not always [fair], as we’ve come to find out.

“So you need to determine if the test is accurate and then what happens if there is a wrong test that shows up positive. You have to make sure the appeals process has the ability to get those wrong tests righted. That’s very important.”

Goodell’s position over the players as both judge and appellate judge with rare exception is a point of contention between the league and the union. It only got worse during the Saints’ bounty scandal, even after Goodell finally relented and recused himself from the appeals process. He appointed former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who softened the punishment of the players involved.

Smith said in January that HGH testing already would be in place in the NFL if the league had accepted a plan similar to the one in Major League Baseball. In that plan, the players can “appeal to a neutral arbitrator and challenge the underlying science” of a test.

NFL Senior Vice President Adolpho Birch said the league did agree to a third-party arbitrator and then accused the union of dragging its feet. He said the union’s insistence on challenging the “underlying science” of a test isn’t in step with the MLB program since the baseball union, he said, accepts HGH testing as reliable and scientifically sound.

Meanwhile, 20 months after the NFL and its union ended the lockout, the league’s drug-testing program still operates under 2010 rules. With no HGH testing, which both sides claim they want to help rid the game of cheaters while possibly increasing player safety at a time when that’s the hottest topic of discussion in the sport.

“Can we get it together in time for testing this season?” Greenway asked. “I don’t know. The timeline can be crazy. It’s already March and there’s a lot going on. But if it’s that big of an issue, I think something has to be figured out soon in the next couple of months.

“Both sides need to figure it out. I guess we’ll find out soon if it’ll be in place this fall. Like I said, just give me an even playing field. I’m all for HGH testing, as long as it’s done the right way.”

Twenty months later, both sides are still searching for that right way.

 

Mark Craig • mcraig@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco 2 Top 5th Inning
Kansas City 2
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 90 FINAL
Orlando 89
Brooklyn 84 4th Qtr 1:23
Boston 95
Washington 86 4th Qtr 4:22
New York 89
Cleveland 58 3rd Qtr 5:33
Memphis 59
Minnesota 65 3rd Qtr 5:27
Milwaukee 54
Atlanta 53 3rd Qtr
San Antonio 48
Portland 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
Phoenix 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Toronto 0 Postponed
Ottawa 0
Philadelphia 2 2nd Prd :38
Pittsburgh 2
Washington 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Buffalo 9:30 PM
Anaheim
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Chivas USA 0 1st Half 44:55
Real Salt Lake 0
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close