Smith: Union won't be 'bullied' into HGH testing

Posted Feb. 02, 2012 @ 7:49 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

INDIANAPOLIS — One year ago, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith stood before a packed, hot room in Dallas and spoke with an obvious edge to his voice about the then-impending labor crisis.

Thursday the mood was considerably more toned down.

Smith stood alongside the NFLPA's eight-player leadership panel — including several outgoing members such as Sean Morey, Tony Richardson and Kevin Mawae, whom Smith emotionally praised for their service — and spoke of labor harmony and the union's future goals for its membership.

There was business to attend to, though, and it was not all bouquet tossing in the 45-minute press conference. Regarding HGH testing for players, which has yet to be sorted out, Smith said the NFLPA and the league continue to collectively bargain the process for implementing the plan. Both sides agreed to testing for performance-enhancing drugs in the new labor agreement last year, but the details have yet to be settled.

Smith also said the union would not be "bullied" into accepting a bad plan for its players. Players roundly object to blood tests, which right now are said to be the only reliable test available. In addition, it's an extremely expensive test, costing up to $2,500 for administering. But the union's biggest objection is over the test population — the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Smith said, has not given enough information about what test levels are acceptable for positive and negative tests.

"With all due respect to the folks at WADA, who have told us that the standard against which our players will be measured is really none of our business and shouldn't concern us, how can it not be our business?" Smith asked rhetorically. "It seems to me and the players that if we are able to get to a system that is truly transparent, that is the best answer to the solution.

"But no one will bully us into a test. No one will force the players to accept something that's unfair. How could we?"

WADA officials previously have said the NFLPA must live up to its agreement to proper testing. NFLPA officials privately are concerned that football players' HGH levels — which occur naturally in the body — could exceed non-players' levels, which might skew the WADA test results to the players' disadvantage.

In other union business, Smith said: