League, union inch closer towards HGH testing

The NFL’s quest to implement HGH testing appears to be coming to a successful conclusion, as the league and NFLPA have tentatively agreed to both testing and a punishment system for the 2013 season, according to a union memorandum that surfaced on Tuesday.

Per the union memo, a computer program will randomly select five players from eight different teams each week during the regular season to provide a blood sample for HGH testing. Should any player be deemed to have exceeded the soon-to-be-established threshold for human growth hormone, a four-game suspension will be handed down (Step One of the Policy), while a second positive test would carry the penalty of an eight-game suspension (Step Two of the Policy).

Players will have the right to appeal the discipline handed down by the league for a positive HGH test, but Albert Breer of the NFL Network reports that while the parties have agreed on all procedural aspects of the testing, there is still some negotiating left to be completed regarding the appeals process and the presence of a neutral arbitrator.

The first order of business for the NFL will be to establish what the union is calling “the correct decision limit.” Every human being produces human growth hormone, so the league needs to first determine what constitutes a normal level of HGH and what constitutes a failed test. To establish this baseline, every player in an NFL training camp will provide a blood sample that will be examined by Dr. Al Rogol for the purposes of establishing the “correct decision limit.”

Should 5 percent or more of these blood samples come back with an HGH level above the established decision limit, these players will be informed that they have been placed on “reasonable cause” testing through the end of the 2014-2015 season. Any player who exceeds the HGH decision limit while on “reasonable cause” testing prior to the end of the 2014-2015 season will be subject to Step Two of the Policy (eight-game suspension).

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