As we've heard over the last two days, there were still some last-minute loose end issues that needed to be ironed out before the NFL's new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was officially ratified by the players. One of those issues that Commissioner Roger Goodell and the League really pushed for was testing for Human Growth Hormone, or "HGH" as it's commonly referred to.
HGH is known as being a harder substance to screen athletes for in comparison to other Performance Enhancing Drugs, like Steroids. It is now widely known that the new CBA will include a provision in it where random blood tests will be conducted on players to test for HGH. These annual tests will start this season.
Drug testing in the NFL has always been a sticky issue and, quite frankly, seems to be less frowned upon by fans as opposed to those who follow Major League Baseball. With the MLB really making a strong stand lately against steroids (finally), the NFl probably felt similar pressure to take steps to make advancements in this area.
This is significant news for the NFL for a couple of reasons. First, it shows that the NFL and Roger Goodell "won" a couple of last-minute CBA battles against the players. This whole CBA fiasco has been based on one side gaining leverage at every possible moment and the NFL has seemed to really push for this clause to be included in the new CBA.
Secondly, this is a huge PR move by the League as a whole. The NFL is always considered "cutting edge" when it comes to its use of technoology and it's overall attraction to fans. With HGH testing now in effect, the NFL is now the only sport in the U.S. that currently tests for this substance. This once again shows the general public how ahead of the curve the NFL is in comparison to the other leagues in the U.S.
With this news, it's going to be interesting to see how many more players fail drug tests and the new HGH tests, more specifically. The fact that Goodell and the NFL were pushing hard for HGH testing in the new CBA probably ties into his desire to keep his status as the main figure to dole out punishments to players that violate drug and/or Personal Conduct policies. Don't be surprised if player suspensions rise in 2011 with these new tests.