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.
“The longer we continue to stall out on this issue or we don’t have an effective regiment in place, it’s a disservice to all of us,” Birch said at the NFL’s scouting combine. “We need resolution. This is enough. We’ve been talking about this for two years.”
In 2011, the NFL became the first professional league to agree with its players on HGH testing. But the sides have debated the scientific validity of the test, and the union still is not satisfied with the process.
Meanwhile, Major League Baseball will test for HGH throughout the upcoming regular season. Last year, players were subject to blood testing for HGH during spring training.
On Tuesday, the union said in a conference call that it favors HGH testing, but only if it consists of a strong appeals process.
“We’ve had kind of a long history in our union and the league’s relationship, and that’s deteriorated the trust between the two, and the players don’t feel comfortable moving forward, and I don’t feel comfortable moving forward without the proper protections in place,” NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth said. “As far as I understand, there’s no good reason not to have those protections in place, so that’s kind of the holdup as far as HGH is concerned.”
“HGH testing that doesn’t give our players the opportunity to appeal, that’s just a nonstarter.”
Birch noted the union has asked for appeals to be handled by a third party, and that the league has proposed third-party arbitration since 2009. In MLB, positive tests and resulting discipline can be challenged by the union before an arbitrator.
MLB and its players union agreed before the 2012 season to start releasing the identity of substances causing a player’s positive test. Birch was asked whether use of the drug Adderall is a trend in the NFL or an excuse used by players who test positive for performance enhancers.
“That is one of the features we have proposed is to release the substance that was tested for so there is no ability to go behind and minimalize what the violation was,” Birch said. “I think it also helps other players realize what substances cause this.
“But the union has consistently rejected that, so that’s another feature they said they’d take today from Major League Baseball and that they’ve rejected today.”
Union spokesman George Atallah disputes Birch’s claim.
“It’s part of our collective bargaining agreement to keep everything confidential,” Atallah said. “Part of the reason why it’s kept confidential is if a player needs some sort of treatment, he can get treatment without public pressure.”
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