Monday, June 14, 2010

Improving the NFL’s Drug Testing Program: a Proposal (Part Four)

In my last blog entry, I recommended that the NFL handle dilute urine samples in a different manner that is more fair to its Players and more consistent with the goals and objectives of an anti-doping program. This entry addresses one peculiar fact within the dual drug-testing programs of the NFL –that certain substances are prohibited under both the Steroid Policy and the Substance Abuse Policy, and that punishment can therefore vary considerably for positive tests for the same exact substance.

The NFL has two separate drug-testing policies: (1) the NFL Policy On Anabolic Steroids And Related Substances [“Steroid Policy”); and (2) the NFL Policy And Program For Substances Of Abuse [“Substance Abuse Policy”]. These two policies have very different sanction schedules, with the Substance Abuse Policy being more (appropriately) geared toward treatment than penalizing the athlete. However, amphetamine and methamphetamine are currently prohibited under both policies.

Therefore, a player who tests positive for either of these substances will have a very different penalty depending only on whether the test is conducted under the Steroid Policy or the Substance Abuse Policy. Under the Steroid Policy, a first positive test results in a 4-game suspension without pay; a second positive test results in an 8-game suspension without pay; and a third positive test results in a 12-month suspension without pay. However, a player who tests positive for amphetamine or methamphetamine under the Substance Abuse Policy will receive treatment and be subject to further testing for the first positive test; a 4-game suspension without pay for the second positive test; and a suspension without pay for up to 6 games for a third positive test.

The NFL and NFLPA should make a policy determination as to whether they believe that amphetamine and methamphetamine more properly belong under the Steroid Policy or the Substance Abuse Policy, and should place these substances under that drug-testing program only. Players should not receive disparate treatment and/or penalties for a positive test for amphetamine or methamphetamine dependent solely on which drug-testing program they are being tested under.

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