The NFL players union and owners were still trying to hammer out a new deal on testing for human growth hormone – or HGH – as the regular season opened. The negotiations were described as fragile.
According to the Washington Post
, the players association signed on as part of the 2011 labor agreement that players would be blood-tested for HGH, but the union and owners are still at loggerheads over details of the the testing.
There was a glimmer of hope that the both sides could come to an agreement before the bulk of the league's games on Sunday. The season opened Thursday with the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks defeating the Green Bay Packers 36-16.
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The Post said stumbling blocks continue to be what constitutes a positive test for athletes and the guidelines for an appeals process.
According to ESPN
, the players are demanding that a neutral arbitrator rule on all appeals of positive tests from substance abuse and PED policies rather than NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Under the current proposal, Goodell would still determine the penalty, but the player could appeal to a three-person panel, which would decide on matter of due process.
Michael David Smith, of NBC Sports Pro Football Talk
, said two of the NFL's highest profile drug suspensions could be affected by a new overall drug deal – Denver Broncos West Welker and Cleveland Browns Josh Gordon. Welker is scheduled to miss the first four games of the season while Gordon is set to miss the entire season.
"The new policy that may be forthcoming has received attention primarily because it would include testing for human growth hormone, which has never before been tested in the NFL, but the policy would also have some other changes," Smith wrote.
"One change is that off-season use of amphetamines would move from the performance-enhancing substance policy to the substance-abuse policy. That would mean that Welker would switch from a first-time offender in the PED policy (which carries an automatic four-game suspension) to a first-time offender in the substance-abuse policy (which carries no suspension)," Smith wrote.
He said new marijuana testing guidelines could help reduce Gordon's sentencing as well.
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