NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith still hopes a program to test players for HGH will be in place by the start of the 2012 regular season.
"I hope so, because our players want a clean game," Smith told Mike Florio in a Friday interview on ProFootballTalk Live. "The players of the National Football League believe that we should be doing everything to make sure that the game is fair and clean. As you know, we've offered to the league, back in August, the proposal that they engage in a population study because we believed that that was the best way to understand and have a system that was transparent and fair. It took some time for the league to come around to that position, and they have. We are still discussing the people who will engage in that study, but that's what we have to do.
"We have to get close to that, and we have to make sure that we get this process right sooner rather than later."
Both sides have agreed to HGH testing as part of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, but the players, who have questioned the reliability of a blood-based test, have yet to approve a process to conduct the program. The completion of a population study will not be the only issue with HGH testing that will need to be addressed, as the players are sure to push for a neutral arbitrator.
The population study issues, and other items that are sure to follow it, might explain why NFL general counsel Jeff Pash, who was once hopeful of a program being in place for the start of the 2012 season, told Florio in the segment following Smith's that he was not optimistic about an HGH testing system being implemented.
"It would be a nice surprise," Pash told Florio of an HGH testing program. "I'm certainly not optimistic."