The NFL Players Association has approved the league's drug policy proposal after a vote by player reps, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport and Albert Breer reported Friday.
The NFLPA announced the new policy, which will institute human growth hormone testing for the first time and offers sweeping changes to the league's drug policy. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello clarified to Rapoport on Friday night that there are still "significant obstacles" to reaching a final agreement on revisions to the drug program. The players voted to delegate authority to the NFLPA staff to make a deal, but there is no official deal yet.
Rapoport reported early Sunday that no agreement will be met between the union and league that day, but the hope is for one Monday to give formerly suspended players a chance to return to their teams.
The NFLPA's statement Friday indicated that the two sides have resolved the biggest issues.
The threshold for positive marijuana tests was raised and offseason amphetamine-positive tests will go from the performance enhancing drug policy to the substances of abuse policy. That means players who failed tests for amphetamines this offseason like Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker will have their suspensions lifted and be eligible to play when the deal is finalized, according to Rapoport and Breer.
Once the agreement is finalized, Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick, Miami Dolphins safety Reshad Jones and Miami Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan also will have suspensions lifted. Despite players voting on the drug proposal, no final deal was in place by Saturday's roster deadline for players to play Sunday, Rapoport reported.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon will have his yearlong suspension for marijuana use reduced to 10 games, according to Rapoport. No special exception has been made for Gordon. Under the new rules, 10 games is the standard ban for a fourth violation of the NFL's policy on substances of abuse.
"This is an historic moment for our players and our league," NFLPA President Eric Winston said in a statement. "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."
Some of the key elements to the proposed new agreement, from the NFLPA:
» HGH testing will start in the 2014 season. The collection of blood specimens is prohibited on game days.
» The new 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.
» A two-game suspension will be issued upon conviction or plea agreement for driving under the influence.
» 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 found to violate the confidentiality agreement will face fines up to $500,000 and/or termination or other discipline.
» 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 three to five arbitrators.