Random Steroid Testing on Any Given Sunday in the NFL
Random Steroid Testing on Any Given Sunday in the NFL By Millard Baker
Players in the National Football League (NFL) will be subject to random in-season testing for anabolic steroids during the upcoming season. The game day steroid testing will begin on September 8, 2011 when the New Orleans Saints visit the Green Bay Packers for the first preseason game of the NFL season.
Adolpho Birch, the NFL senior vice president of law and labor policy, provided additional details to the new anti-doping procedures that will be implemented as part of the most collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players’ Associatoin (NFLPA).
Birch explained that each football player will be tested at least once during the off-season but no more than six times. During the in-season, each player will be subject to random testing as often as the NFL decides to test. “That could be, if a person were particularly lucky or unlucky, it could be 22 or 23 times,” according to Birch.
The NFL will strictly test for performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids, amphetamines and human growth hormone (hGH). They will not test for recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana.
The NFL recently became the first major professional sports league in the United States to start blood testing for human growth hormone (hGH). The hGH testing was also introduced as part of the newly ratified collective bargaining agreement.
Only one athlete has ever been caught using the hGH blood test since it was introduced after the 2004 Athens Olympics and that athlete was “target tested” because drug testers had strong non-analytic evidence that the athlete was using hGH at the time. For this reason, the hGH blood test has been largely dismissed as largely ineffective in the fight against hGH use in sports.
The addition of hGH testing, while of little concern to players, gives the NFL a nice public relations opportunity to appear tough on doping.