The "final hurdle" to testing players for HGH this season apparently involves the NFL and union agreeing on whether Commissioner Roger Goodell will hear appeals for violations other than a positive test, according to a person who works for the league.
The person sent an email Thursday to The Associated Press to update the status of negotiations between the league and the NFL Players Association. The information was provided on condition of anonymity because the sides' talks about the drug policy are supposed to remain confidential.
The person said that while several issues standing in the way of HGH testing have been resolved, "the final hurdle appears to be" the union's desire to have someone other than Goodell rule on appeals that involve violations of the law or "demonstrated use" of a performance-enhancing substance without a positive test.
The email adds that the NFL does not "believe it is appropriate further to limit the commissioner's disciplinary authority."
It also says: "We have made clear to the NFLPA ... that we are not prepared to resolve issues relating to HGH on a piecemeal basis. Two years after agreeing to HGH testing in the first place, we think the goal should be to reach a comprehensive agreement on all aspects of HGH testing so that the program can be fully implemented for the current season."
The league and union originally paved the way for HGH testing in the 10-year collective bargaining agreement they signed in August 2011, pending discussions to resolve various details. But two Super Bowls have come and gone — and the 2013 regular-season opener is only three weeks away — without a single blood test for human growth hormone having been administered.
Since the current CBA went into effect, the sides have haggled over several aspects of the program, including the appeals process and the union's insistence on a population study to determine what constitutes a naturally occurring amount of HGH in NFL players.
A memo sent to players by the NFLPA this week — and obtained by the AP — indicated that the population study process was settled, as was a tentative agreement to randomly test 40 players per week during the season. Thursday's email from the NFL employee refers to those as "agreed-upon elements regarding HGH testing."
It also notes that the scientific experts in charge of determining a threshold for a positive test "plan to create a control group in addition to the pool of current player specimens" but says "there is presently no agreement of any kind involving a role for retired players in the study."