Though it may not be imminent, it's only a matter of time before the NFL tests for human growth hormone.
With the NFL and NFL Players Association reaching an agreement to perform an HGH population study, it seems there's only one more logical step in the process.
And that's to test each NFL player to ensure they're not taking the performance enhancer. Joe Flacco has joined the likes of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton as NFL players to speak up in support of a league-wide HGH test.
"We don't do any of that testing, HGH and blood testing in the NFL," Flacco said. "I'm definitely one of the guys -- test me and the guys as many ways as you can to make sure that there is nobody in the league that is on anything. The last thing that I want to be doing is having my guys that I'm pretty sure are natural going against guys that aren't. It causes a lot of bad situations and definitely puts out a message out there that is not good to all the people around the country."
In the population study the NFL and NFLPA agreed to, each player is required to submit a blood sample that's immediately sent to a laboratory for testing. Scientists would then calculate an appropriate natural level of HGH allowed in an NFL player's blood based on the findings. Nothing more will be done with the samples and no suspensions would be levied out for any samples found to have excessive amounts of HGH.
That could then set the stage for a league-wide HGH test that would be required along with the other performance enhancers the NFL tests for.
As the league's policy stands now, without HGH testing, a first-time offender of the league's performance enhancing drugs policy receives a four-game suspension.
A second offense, and that player sits out eight games without any pay. A third offense results in a suspension of 12 months with that player having to apply for reinstatement into the NFL.
Each year, the occasional NFL player violates the league's policy. Baltimore's Asa Jackson is now a second-time offender, though he claims he tested positive for the prescription drug Adderall and not an anabolic steroid. Jackson is suspended for the first eight games of the season.
Baseball has had a tough time lately dealing with steroids. With the recent fallout from the Biogenesis scandal, which resulted in Alex Rodriguez receiving a 211-game suspension (pending appeal), along with 12 other suspensions, it's become a hot topic across the sports landscape.
Asked about it, Flacco chose to speak up about how performance enhancers can ruin the ultimate experience of sports from an athletic and societal standpoint.
"The biggest thing for us as players is you don't want your guys to be put in situations where you feel like you have to do that to overcome guys that are doing that," Flacco said. "So, it's bad for all sports as the whole. You want to go out there and you want to play on an even playing field, and you don't want that stuff to have any part in that.
"I'm sure the way it looks to kids out there, I'm sure it's not good. I think everybody is trying to head the direction where they are doing as much as they can to get that out of sports. I think we just have to continue to grow and monitor."
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