By Bill Bradley, contributing editor
Adolpho Birch, the NFL's senior vice president of law and labor policy, said Thursday that the NFL Players Association should stop stalling and agree to implementation of human growth hormone testing of league players.
"The union knows that HGH testing is the right thing to do for our game, for its membership and for the millions of people who look to the NFL and NFL players to set the example for fair and exciting play," Birch said in a statement. "It is time for the NFLPA to stop the delay tactics, to move forward for the good of the game and players, and stop focusing on protecting people that break the law."
Birch's statement came in response to comments made by NFLPA president Domonique Foxworth, who earlier in the day called for the league to drop plans to involve NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in the appeals process for discipline over HGH testing.
"If the NFL justifies keeping Roger's power because of the CBA, then why did they agree to change it for every other part of the new policy?" Foxworth wrote in an email to USA Today Sports. "The fact is he wants a 'carve out' and an exception to neutral arbitration. All of our players voted for fairness."
The league and players' union have gone two years without agreeing on a process for implementation of HGH testing. The sides approved HGH testing as part of the collective bargaining agreement that was ratified two years ago, but for various reasons during negotiations, testing has yet to begin.
Both sides have agreed on many aspects of implementation. However, one of the sticking points has been the union's desire to have an independent arbitrator or a panel mediate discipline on HGH violations. However, it was agreed during CBA talks that Goodell would be part of such a process.
"NFL players two years ago overwhelmingly agreed to HGH testing and to continuing the commissioner's longstanding disciplinary authority in cases where a player is found to have violated the law by a judge or jury," Birch said. "The union's latest demand has nothing to do with appeals from positive drug tests, nothing to do with ensuring a level playing field and nothing to do with keeping players safe from dangerous substances. It is simply a case of buyer's remorse, and an effort to renegotiate part of a long-term agreement that they have now decided they don't like."
The NFLPA and executive director DeMaurice Smith have yet to respond to Birch's statement. Smith shrugged off accusations of stalling last week in an interview with Fox Sports.
Many players, including Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, have called for testing to begin as soon as possible. The issue even has caused two U.S. Congressmen to call for hearings on Capitol Hill if the sides cannot agree to parameters for testing.