NEW YORK — The NFL is adding game-day testing for performance-enhancing substances — but not recreational drugs — this season under the new collective bargaining agreement.
The league’s senior vice president of law and labor policy, Adolpho Birch, said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters that tests weren’t conducted in the past on days there were games “because of logistical issues involved, much more so than any philosophical issues.”
Birch, who oversees the NFL’s drug program, added that the league had developed a way to test that “is not overly disruptive to the clubs and that respects the game-day process.”
Birch would not say where talks between the NFL and the players’ union stand — or even if they’ve started — about details that need to be worked out before the league can introduce random, year-round blood testing for human growth hormone.
The NFL and union agreed last week that HGH testing can become part of the sport’s drug program under the new, 10-year collective bargaining agreement that was ratified by players Thursday. But first issues such as the appeals process and how tests are taken have to be negotiated.
“The key to this testing is the randomness of it, and that every player is subject to and eligible for testing on a year-round basis, with no notice,” Birch said.
The only limitation on the number of tests is that a player may be tested a maximum of six times each offseason, from February until the start of training camp.
“I would certainly expect players will be tested in an amount that will be meaningful. But more important, the idea is not so much the number of tests performed, but it is the constant threat of testing that provides the key to deterrence under this particular program,” Birch said.
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