The NFL Testing Procedure for PEDs

The official NFL testing procedure for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs):

The independent administrator for the NFL has the sole discretion to make determinations, consistent with the terms of the policy.

Typically urine testing is used but blood testing may be used during the off-season or under special circumstances when it’s deemed necessary by the independent administrator.

The NFL outlines the following circumstances for testing:

Pre-employment: Pre-employment tests may be administered to free agent players (whether rookies or veterans). In addition, testing will be conducted at the annual scouting combines.

Annual: All Players will be tested for Prohibited Substances at least once per League Year. Such testing will occur at training camp or whenever the Player reports thereafter and will be deemed a part of his preseason physical.

Preseason/Regular Season: Each week during the preseason and regular season, ten (10) Players on every Club will be tested. By means of a computer program, the Independent Administrator will randomly select the Players to be tested from the Club’s active roster, practice squad list, and reserve list who are not otherwise subject to ongoing reasonable cause testing for performance-enhancing substances. The number of Players selected for testing on a particular day will be determined in advance on a uniform basis. Players will be required to provide a specimen whenever they are selected, without regard to the number of times they have previously been tested consistent with the limits set forth in the Policy.

Postseason: Ten (10) Players on every Club qualifying for the playoffs will be tested weekly so long as the Club remains active in the postseason. Players to be tested during the postseason will be selected on the same basis as during the regular season.

Off-Season: Players under contract who are not otherwise subject to reasonable cause testing may be tested during the off-season months at the discretion of the Independent Administrator, subject to the collectively bargained maximum of six (including blood tests) off-season tests. Players to be tested in the off-season will be selected on the same basis as during the regular season, irrespective of their off-season locations. Any Player selected for testing during the off-season will be required to furnish a urine specimen at a convenient location acceptable to the Independent Administrator, subject to the qualification set forth in Section 3.2 for specimen collections occurring away from the Club facility. Only Players who advise in writing that they have retired from the NFL will be removed from the testing pool. If, however, a Player thereafter signs a contract with a Club, he will be placed back in the testing pool.

Reasonable Cause Testing For Players With Prior Positive Tests Or Under Other Circumstances: Any Player testing positive for a Prohibited Substance, including a Player who tested positive or for whom there is sufficient credible evidence of steroid involvement up to two football seasons prior to his applicable college draft or at a scouting combine, will be subject to evaluation by the Independent Administrator, after which the Independent Administrator may in his or her discretion place the Player into the reasonable cause testing program. Reasonable cause testing may also be required when, in the opinion of the Independent Administrator, he receives credible, verifiable documented information providing a reasonable basis to conclude that a Player may have violated the Policy or may have a medical condition that warrants further monitoring.

Notification and Collection

Collection is done by the Independent Administrator and  Collection Vendor.

Collection at a Club facility, stadium or scouting combine venue requires no advance notice to the player and is required in no more than three hours.

For collection occurring away from the Club facility, the player will be contacted by telephone, voicemail or text message to notify him that he has been selected and to schedule a collection time within 24 hours at a site not more than 45 miles from the players’ location.

Urine may be collected on any day of the week. The collection of blood specimens is prohibited on game days unless the player’s day off is scheduled for the day following a game day, in which case blood collections may occur following the end of the game.

Failure or Refusal

Unexcused failure or refusal to appear for testing, or cooperate will result in disciplinary action.  Any attempt to substitute or dilute a specimen is considered a violation of policy and may result in more severe discipline than would have been for a positive test.

Notice to Player

After a positive result is confirmed, the Independent administrator will notify the player in writing of the positive result and request that the player call him to discuss the result.  The player with then go in for a medical evaluation and be placed on reasonable cause testing at a frequency decided by the independent administrator.


Discipline comes in the form of game suspensions dependent on the severity of the offense and will begin when the player accepts discipline or the decision on appeal becomes final.

In the final article of this series, we’ll examine exactly which substances are banned by the NFL.