Negotiations Between NFL and Congress Over HGH Testing Get Heated

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It all looked good almost two years ago when the NFL and the NFL Players Association put in place a plan to begin testing their players for HGH. However, it’s been almost two years since the League announced it would test for human growth hormone, and there are still no tests being done on NFL athletes. The issue has dragged out so long, it may now go to Congress, specifically the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, to be resolved. At issue now is that the two sides can’t agree on all terms put forth in multiple versions of a collective bargaining agreement that was originally intended to specify the terms for the testing to start in the current season. Congressman Elijah Cummings is leading the charge against the NFL and the NFLPA, and in April announced that the committee would begin looking into congressional hearings on the issue if a resolution is not agreed to soon.

The House committee has been actively putting pressure on the NFL and NFLPA to come to an agreement and begin the testing that was supposed to already be in place. When the NFL announced that they would begin testing for HGH more than a year and a half ago, they were lauded for their active stance against doping, but since then Major League Baseball and the NBA have come closer to testing for HGH, and the NFL and NFLPA have come under attack for their inability to approve the proposal and move forward with testing. In fact, the House Committee has publicly wondered if the resistance to testing comes from a belief by the NFL and NFLPA that HGH use isn’t really a big issue in the sport.

Why is the NFL and the player’s union moving backwards instead of forwards in their agreement to test for HGH? The NFLPA maintains that they are unsure the testing process is valid following a successful appeal against a positive HGH test by champion skier Andrus Veerpalu. According to the NFLPA, it’s not the science of the testing, but the procedures of the testing process that they take issue with.

According to the UCLA Olympic Analytical Lab, one of only two labs in the United States approved to do HGH testing, the HGH test is fully validated. HGH testing kits are used to test a blood sample given by the athlete, and the outcome of testing is accurate if the sample can be drawn while HGH, a hormone that can be cleared from the body relatively quickly, is still detectable. The lab at UCLA is the world’s largest WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) accredited lab, and tests for HGH in Olympic, college, high school and professional athletes.

While the NFLPA maintains that they won’t be bullied into action by Congress, the longer the issue drags out the worse it may be for both the NFL and the player’s union. Roger Goodall, the NFL’s commissioner, announced in 2012 that he hoped testing would be in place before the 2013 season started. Now, many are wondering if the issue will even be resolved before the opening of NFL training camps in July.

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