WADA chief to NFLPA: 'If you've got nothing to hide, open up'

NEW YORK -- While the NFL continues to push for human growth hormone testing to begin, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency questioned the NFL Players Association's reasons for holding it up.

Speaking at an anti-doping conference held Thursday at the NFL headquarters, WADA director general David Howman said the NFLPA's objections to testing are "not about science" and have "no substance."

"If you've got nothing to hide, open up," Howman said.

The NFL and NFLPA agreed to HGH testing when they signed the new CBA in July, but the union has yet to agree on an acceptable testing method.

"We're still trying," said Adolpho Birch, the NFL's senior VP of law and labor policy. "Our normal testing is still going on. If you're talking about HGH testing, in particular, we're still insistent that we implement HGH testing as soon as it's possible and we are continuing to try to work toward that end."

Told of Howman's comments, NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told The Associated Press that WADA itself "lacks transparency" and said the union still has legitimate concerns about the tests and appeals process.

Birch introduced Howman, who was the keynote speaker for "The Doping Decision: Deterring Doping in Sport," a day-long conference organized by the Partnership for Clean Competition.

The 100-plus attendees heard presentations on subjects ranging from why athletes take performance-enhancing drugs to scientific advances in detection to the role of investigation and law enforcement. The NFL is a founding partner of the Partnership for Clean Competition, which was formed in 2008 with the main goal of supporting anti-doping research.

The afternoon sessions at Thursday's conference may offer some insight into testing methods, as they delved deeper into the scientific side of the doping issue. Earlier in the day, the focus was more on understanding why and how athletes use performance enhancers. The "why" is not so hard to figure out.

"It starts with understanding the mindset of the athletes," said former Major League Baseball player Doug Glanville, who is on the board of Athletes Against Drugs. "For an athlete, the end of their career is a brick wall at the end of the road. It's abrupt and it's not on your own terms."

Dr. Andrew Pipe, Professor of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, likened it to movie stars using Botox to look younger -- only in this case, it's against the rules. And he was quick to note that unregulated supplements are no better. In a booming worldwide industry, he said, many supplements contain ingredients that will produce a positive drug test. Despite efforts to educate athletes about these supplements, many athletes fail to heed the warnings.

"There's a sucker born every minute," said Pipe, quoting P.T. Barnum. "I would say 80 percent of them are playing in a sports league somewhere."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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