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Player reps delay vote on new drug policy proposal

September 10, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — The 32 player representatives to the union have delayed a vote on the NFL’s proposal for changes to the drug policy that potentially could implement HGH testing.

After a conference call of about one hour Tuesday night during which the proposal was discussed, the player reps opted to take no action. The proposal was not delivered to the union until midday.

“There was no vote tonight by NFLPA player representatives,” Union spokesman George Atallah said. “We will continue to work towards a comprehensive agreement.”

The union has insisted that a satisfactory proposal to them is the only one that will be voted on. Atallah said last week that a “piecemeal” agreement did not interest the players.

The sides have discussed changes to the policy on substance abuse and driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol. A potential hang-up on that issue was the league’s desire to immediately discipline players — as well as NFL owners, executives, officials, coaches and league office personnel — arrested for DUIs. NFLPA President Eric Winston told The Associated Press last week that ignoring a player’s rights to due process would not be considered by the union.

The NFLPA also is pushing for neutral arbitration in the appeals process and is seeking higher thresholds for positive marijuana tests. But the key element could be a test for human growth hormone.

HGH testing was agreed upon in the 2011 collective bargaining agreement that ended the lockout of the players. But the union has been uncomfortable with the science and the procedures for the testing, as well as how appeals would be handled. The league did agree to an appeal process several years ago.

In marijuana testing, the union feels the league’s threshold for a positive test of 15 nanograms per milliliter is too demanding, citing the IOC’s threshold of 150 nanograms, 10 times as high.

The NFL threshold was collectively bargained. But as Winston said last Friday, anyone within the vicinity of people smoking marijuana without partaking themselves could wind up testing positive at such a low number.

“The (potency) level is so much greater in marijuana now, the secondhand smoke can get a positive test,” Winston said. “Just a guy who is around it second hand, then to have to go into the program? We don’t want false positive. We have to move up the minimum to normal workplace standards.”

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AP Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this story.

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