The NFL and NFL Players Association butted heads Thursday over the proper administration of testing and punishment for human growth hormone. The NFL relented recently by agreeing to allow a third-party arbitrator handle simple positive test results, according to NFL.com's Albert Breer, and now the only remaining issue between the two organizations is commissioner Roger Goodell's power over the appeals process.
The NFL and the NFLPA could be in for another drawn-out battle over the coming days, with the league looking to maintain oversight over appeals involving the law and evidentiary cases (the Biogenesis case in Major League Baseball is an example of the latter). Players, wary of the power Goodell already wields in the league, would like to keep the appeals process out of league jurisdiction as much as possible.
That said, both sides still agree that HGH testing should be administered. To do so, a population study must be completed, which requires collecting blood samples from every player in the league before the start of the 2013 regular season in just over a week. The NFLPA sent an email to players Friday to prepare them to potentially have their blood drawn at a moment's notice. Breer released the email via his Twitter feed:
"Men: In our efforts to improve the integrity of our collectively bargained joint drug policies, please remember that collection protocol rules, including validation of a player's identification at the time of collection, be strictly enforced."
According to Breer, the league views next Saturday, the day NFL rosters are pared down to 53 players for the start of the regular season, as a "soft deadline" to have a deal in place. NFLPA assistant executive director of external affairs George Atallah estimated that it would take 4-8 days to organize sample collection and draw blood from players to complete the population study. If Week 1 HGH testing is still a priority, the NFL and NFLPA will need to reach an agreement quickly.