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NFL Agrees to Arbitration on Positive PED tests

Thursday, August, 29, 2013

The NFL and the NFLPA recently had conversations regarding the use of testing, and while HGH testing was the primary focus for much of the media coverage, another important was raised with regard to PED testing.  As part of these conversations, the National Football League agreed to use third-party arbitration for PED testing, whereas previously they used arbitration only for HGH testing disagreements.


The NFL and the NFLPA agreed that positive HGH results and positive results for performance enhancing drugs would be referred to arbitration.  The major point of contention remaining in this situation is that the NFL wishes to maintain the appeal rights for violations for anything other than a positive test in the hands of the NFL Commissioner.  NFL officials noted that violations of issues beyond that of positive test results have been under the authority of the Commissioner for more than 50 years.  The current scenario was reaffirmed and agreed to by the union in 2011.


The negotiations involved discussions of both PED and HGH since human growth hormone is now considered as a performance-enhancing substance.  Separate negotiations are being held to consider the league-wide substance abuse policy, which references recreational drugs like marijuana.


The push for arbitration from the perspective of the NFLPA is rooted in the belief that there exists a need to protect those who might be wrongfully accused of violations.  The NFL, in the past, has suggested that arbitration might be a route to protecting wrongdoers.  A possible solution for the entire scenario is to award the Commissioner preliminary appeal rights, allowing a third party to review the decision afterwards.  If this solution were implemented, players would have an extra level of protection if the decision were arbitrary or erroneous.


The issue of testing and arbitration remains a sticking point for the discussions about how to implement an agreement reached more than two years ago.