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Adolpho Birch, NFL fed up with union over HGH issue

INDIANAPOLIS -- Adolpho Birch isn't thrilled with the NFL Players Association.

Birch, the NFL's senior vice president of law and labor policy, met with the media for 20 minutes at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday and discussed the issues that have prevented HGH testing of the league's players.

"Where we are is largely where we've been since August of 2011," Birch said. "We've tried to work with the union as much as possible to address its concerns. That has consisted in everything from arranging meetings with the World Anti-Doping Agency in Montreal ... it went from that to the notion of the population study. We hadn't heard anything relative to that until after we had the meeting in Montreal.

"The consensus among the scientific community is such that the test as it stands is reliable, accurate and there is absolutely zero need for a population study of NFL players."

Birch said the union changed its concerns from an NFL-only population study to the specifics of the appeals process. He hinted that the union has tried to tie other issues negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement into the HGH proposals. Union president Domonique Foxworth said Tuesday that players don't trust NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.

"It is a disservice to all for us not to focus on the issue at hand, particularly in the context of HGH testing," Birch said. "It has been a stall. I don't know if it is a tactic. There is absolutely no reason for this to have taken this long and for us to not have testing implemented. We should have been more than a year into this by now."

Birch, who said the testing is accurate and reliable, added that there is no need for an NFL-only population study. He said the league has included third-party arbitration in every proposal.

"What we don't want is to create a tree-lined path for someone to be able to utilize the appeals process to stall out the inevitability of discipline or to simple delay the imposition of discipline," Birch said. "We don't want frivolous appeals. We don't want redundant appeals. We don't want appeals designed solely to delay the inevitable."

The league is adamant about identifying the substance that caused a failed test. There have been cases of players claiming the ADHD medication Adderall was the cause of a failed test, rather than a performance-enhancing drug.

"So there is no misinformation and ability to go behind and minimize what the nature of an individual's violation is," Birch said. "The union has consistently rejected that."

Birch didn't seem optimistic the HGH issue would be resolved soon, and his frustration was apparent. According to the current testing policy from 2010, players are eligible to be tested every week of season, six times during the offseason and a mandatory annual test. Both parties agreed in principle to HGH testing, but the union said Tuesday it wants a strong appeals process before agreeing to testing for HGH.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.

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