The NFL and the increase in PED suspensions

Jay Leiderman
By: Jay Leiderman
October 22 2016

In the NFL, what players put in their bodies is controlled by so-called substance policy. This can be termed and classed “Performance Enhancing Drugs” or PEDs, as they are commonly known.  Sometimes the NFL actually looks at this as substance abuse, for example when marijuana is used, notwithstanding the fact that the substance is legalized as a recreational drug in many states and medicalized in many others. Even so, legal drugs vary in some states (such as the aforementioned marijuana) to more intensive procedures such as gene or blood doping or HGH and steroids.

It was a much simpler decision back in the day, with only a minor test staring with Major League Baseball players (after Congressional hearings) with testing beginning on a trial period in the minor leagues, and not a real or “serious” steroid-test. If every NFL player is regularly tested for marijuana, how is it that a number of Major League Baseball players passed each drug test they took?  Certainly use is pervasive throughout both leagues.  The likely answer, from interviews with agents and former league medical staff, is mundane: the test is so, so easy to defeat, and some players were not idiots about it.

There has been a rapid proliferation in the suspensions handed down by the NFL

NFL players who are not already in the substance abuse program are tested for recreational drugs once a year, during a window on behalf of the collective negotiation policy substance-abuse. That window opens in the spring (this year, coincidentally, it is on 04/20) and ends at the beginning of the preseason. But largely because of the cost of the shipment of dope testers, the massive majority of players will be tested during training camp, when they’re all in one place.

If a player passes one test, he will not be tested again until the next April-August. A former medical staff called it an ‘intelligence test,” because it is once a year, and you know its coming.” An agent joked that players will throw some” smoking parties “as soon as their testing is complete.

That NFL drug testing is so predictable and so easy to beat is something of an open secret, but one no one wants to talk about for obvious reasons. (The league would rather not emphasize how toothless it is on recreational drugs, players do not like to rock the boat on a system that they have largely invented.)

Now, with a strict drug testing program in Major League Baseball – the penalty was increased from 10 games to 80 games in the past decade, performance-enhancing drug use is simply a roll of the dice. Or a referendum on the intelligence of the user.  Likewise in the NFL.

What are the rules?

The current NFL policy on drug abuse includes the misuse of prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, illegal drugs, and alcohol. The agreement prohibits the use, possession, and distribution of drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, opiates and opioids, MDMA, and PCP. Amphetamines are also covered under this policy unless the player documented a legitimate, legitimate need for treatment of a medical condition.

There is a separate policy for performance-enhancing substances, as agreed to by the NFL and NFLPA in 2014. The agreement covers the use of anabolic and androgenic steroids, stimulants, human or animal growth hormones and related substances. It also covers substances, like diuretics and agents which mask the presence of performance-enhancing drugs.

Test schedule

For both types of substances, players can also be penalized for refusing to test, not to test whether the manipulation of the sample.

Under the policy of drug abuse, players are tested:

  • Before being hired by a new team. This is also true for the testing of the design ineligible players combines the scouting.
  • Preseason at least once between April 20th and August 9th.
  • On a regular, predetermined intervals as a player in an intervention program.
  • By agreement if the NFL team and player accept it as part of his contract and if there is a reason to ask such tests.

Why are the rules so easily violated?

  • Alcohol & Breaking the Law

use of alcohol is not prohibited unless it is part of the treatment of a player’s plan. Alcohol- Casual related offenses fall under the substance abuse policy if the player has violated the law. The first offense results in a two-game suspension, while subsequent violations will result in an eight-game suspension. If a player breaks the law, while under the influence of other substances, it will be a four-game suspension face for the first offense and then to a 10-game suspension for subsequent offenses.

In fact, there are $ 500,000 fines for those who violate the confidentiality of a player

  • Confidentiality

The reason the public does not hear about violation until a suspension is announced is the result of the rules on confidentiality. Especially in Stage One, where the only consequences are fines, there is no reason would ever know the public about the offense. In fact, there are $ 500,000 fines for those who violate the confidentiality of a player in conflict when it comes to information about their diagnosis, treatment, test results and participation in the program.

  • Changes in New policy

This drug policy is relatively new. On the basis of this CBA, penalties are harsher for DUIs, while some penalties for marijuana use are lower (for example, in the third phase of the first offense for marijuana is now 10 games instead of a year). Also important player calls drug-related sentences are handled by a neutral arbitrator, not the commissioner.

4 thoughts on “The NFL and the increase in PED suspensions

  1. [Justices do not have the right to declare] “a law unconstitutional
    simply becasue they considered a law unwise.” [The court] “is not
    to decide whether the view taken by the legislature is a wise view,
    but whether a body of men could reasonable hold such a view.”
    Lousis D. Brandeis
    Source: The Supreme Court and It’s great Justicies

  2. Put not your trust in money, but put your money in trust.
    Oliver Wendell Holmes
    Source: The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

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