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NFLA Player Representatives Vote to Adopt New Drug Testing Policies

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NFLPA Communications released a press release on the new policies approved unanimously by the player representatives.

Jonathan Ernst

That is just the first step. The approved policies will now be submitted for a vote by the players to reach a final agreement.

Key issue for the players benefit, in my opinion, is the adoption of neutral arbitration.

Here is the press release in it's entirety:

Substances of Abuse, Performance Enhancing Drug Policies will now feature neutral arbitration

WASHINGTON - The NFLPA Board of Representatives tonight voted to approve new policies for both substances of abuse and performance enhancing drugs.

"This is an historic moment for our Players and our League," said NFLPA President Eric Winston. "We have collectively bargained drug policies that will keep the game clean and safe, but also provide our players with an unprecedented level of fairness and transparency. Players should be proud of their union for standing up for what was best for the game."

"We stood up and fought for what was right," said DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA executive director. "Twenty-five years ago it was NFL players that set out to make the game clean by asking for and collectively bargaining the first drug testing policy in professional sports. Today, this union and these player leaders have approved a policy that will serve the game well for generations of players to come."

Important changes include:

  • NEUTRAL ARBITRATION:An Independent Arbitrator will hear appeals for positive test violations of both Substances of Abuse and Performance Enhancing Drug Policies. The NFL and NFLPA will jointly select, approve and pay for retention of 3-5 arbitrators.
  • AMENDING MARIJUANA POLICIES:The threshold for a positive test for marijuana will increase to 35 ng/ml from the previous limit of 15 ng/ml. There will be additional steps for players who test positive for the substance before suspension.
  • RETROACTIVITY:Discipline of players for certain violations in the 2014 League Year will have their discipline adjusted by certain aspects of the new policies.
  • DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE:Players successfully rejected the league's proposal to issue discipline upon arrest, prior to adjudication. A two-game suspension will be issued upon conviction or plea agreement for violations of law involving alcohol and driving.
  • AMPHETAMINES:During the off-season, a first time positive test for amphetamines without a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) will now be evaluated under the Substances of Abuse Policy. During the season, a positive test without a TUE will continue to be a violation of the Performance Enhancing Drug Policy.
  • HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE TESTING:Testing for HGH will occur in the 2014 season. Players have the right to challenge any aspect of the science of the HGH isoforms test. The collection of blood specimens is prohibited on game days.
  • DISCIPLINE FOR BREACHES OF CONFIDENTIALITY:The NFL and NFLPA will have the right to retain independent investigators to review cases where player confidentiality as related to the drug policies has been breached. Employees of the NFL/NFLPA/Clubs, players, certified contract advisors (agents) and policy administrators found to be in violation will face fines up to $500,000 and/or termination or other discipline.

Previously, the Collective Bargaining Agreement ratified in 2011 utilized the policies in place under the 2006 CBA.

A couple of oversights in the 2011 CBA agreement were addressed here, specifically the clause instituting neutral arbitration of appeals. No more judge, jury and executioner. The NFL and NFLPA, both will select, approve and pay for retention of 3-5 arbitrators.


"The Board of Player Representatives gave the NFLPA authority to complete new drug policies with the League consistent with detailed term sheets the players reviewed. We hope to have final agreements, including effective date for players with adjusted discipline, very soon."

-- NFL Players Association

Well we have been waiting for this for several days, and I am glad to see the NFLPA stuck to their stance for this one. Perhaps the recent bad PR hitting the league now had at least this small positive effect.