Lawmakers: NFL players union stalling HGH tests?

October 28, 2011 - 3:05 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two lawmakers who want the NFL to test players for human growth hormone say the players union might be stalling to avoid putting the test in place.

"Unfortunately, it appears that the players' union may be using stall tactics to avoid complying with the collective bargaining agreement," wrote California Republican Darrell Issa and Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings in a letter to the union and league Friday. "For example, we have not received an adequate justification for refusing to allow the collection of blood samples while negotiations continue about the testing regimen."

Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Cummings, the panel's top Democrat, said after a meeting with the league and the union two weeks ago that there was a deal to begin collecting blood for testing. But the union didn't acknowledge any agreement, and has since told the NFL to hold off.

In their letter Friday, the congressmen said they had warned both sides at that meeting that if there wasn't progress within two weeks, the NFL and union would be brought back. Barring news of progress, they wrote, "we will be in touch with you shortly."

The congressmen said they were disappointed in the lack of movement, adding, "Every week of football played without a test endangers clean players and sends a message to young athletes that HGH is tolerated at the game's highest level."

Neither the union nor the league immediately responded to requests for comment.

The latest collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and union includes a provision to begin testing players for HGH — contingent on the union agreeing to the testing methods. The NFLPA has asked for more scientific data to prove the most popular test is reliable.

Issa and Cummings said they appreciated the players' concerns that the testing not expose them to false positives, but said that both sides have an obligation to abide by the terms of the CBA.

The union is seeking data from the athletes who were used to originally set thresholds for what constitutes a positive test, so it can compare that data with a population study on football players. The union believes football players could have naturally higher HGH levels than those of other athletes.

Earlier this week, senior Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee urged that panel's chairman to hold hearings on the HGH impasse.

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