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NFL drug testing policy to change if players vote to do so

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A vote by the NFL players association could come as soon as Tuesday on changes to the NFL's drug test policy. Depending on the outcome, this could allow for reinstatement of some notable players.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

So there is a lot of talk surrounding the NFL's drug testing policy and as soon as tomorrow there could be changes. Most notably, this could affect two well known NFL players that are currently suspended under the old policy. Josh Gordon and Wes Welker were both suspended this season for testing positive for using recreational drugs. Gordon is facing a year long suspension for failing a drug test by the slimest of margins. Welker is facing a four game suspension for failing a drug test for using the recreational drug "Molly". The rub is that Welker used the drug, commonly known as a recreational drug, but under the current policy it is classified as a performance enhancing drug.

The issue at question in the minds of the players association is that the league treats any failed drug test the same. If you are caught with traces of Codeine (a common ingredient in prescription cold medicines) or if you test positive with high levels of performance enhancing substances, these are treated one in the same. Both of these are considered PED's. I can entertain an argument for different punishments for recreational drugs as opposed to drugs that enable a player to gain an unfair advantage, but the distinction between the two should be clear. One of the new tests will be blood tests for Human Growth Hormone. The NFL does not want to face what major league baseball still struggles to get past. So by truly classifying drugs by what they are used for, they can attempt to eliminate the performance enhancing drugs and "clean up" the recreational drug use.

As long as there are still punishments for both instances, I think a better solution is possible. That solution could be voted on as soon as today. However, there are some disagreements around where the proposal currently stands. According to Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk, the NFLPA is waiting on the proposal from the NFL. So while they are ready to vote today, they need something to vote on.

So how does this affect the Bengals? Directly, probably not at all. Cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris is currently serving a 2 game suspension under the old policy and I guess there could be a chance he could be reinstated for this week. However, I don't think that he factors into the Bengals plan at this point. Indirectly, the Bengals could have to contend with the best weapon in Cleveland if Josh Gordon does get reinstated.

The drug-related suspensions in the NFL this season have taken a heavy toll on many teams. On the list of current suspensions there are some highly recognizable names. Not all of these people would have their suspensions reduced, but it is interesting that some of them could be back in action as soon as this weekend. Florio also notes that many teams have inquired to the league about reducing their suspended players punishments.

Player Reason Length First offense? Cost
Jakar Hamilton Substance abuse 4 games Yes N/A
Donald Stephenson
PEDs 4 games Yes $171,617
Dwayne Bowe
Marijuana arrest
1 game No $691,175
Spencer Nealy
PEDs
4 games Yes $98,823
Reshad Jones
PEDs
4 games Yes $849,411
Eric Herman
PEDs
4 games Yes $98,823
Brian Tyms
PEDs
4 games Yes $116,470
Ace Sanders
Substance abuse
4 games Yes $116,470
Matt Prater Violated the substance abuse policy 4 games No $750,000
Ray Rice Conduct detrimental to the league 2 games Yes $528,588
Fred Davis Substance abuse Indefinite No N/A
Jake Knott PEDs 4 games Yes $116,470.00
Brandon Moore Substance abuse 4 games Yes $98,823.00
Frank Alexander Substance abuse 4 games Yes $134,117.00
Stedman Bailey PEDs 4 games Yes $120,551.00
Robert Mathis PEDs 4 games Yes $705,882.00
Daryl Washington Substance abuse 1 year No $3,000,000.00
Will Hill Substance abuse 6 games No $201,176.00
Jayron Hosley Substance abuse 4 games Yes $134,117.00
Lane Johnson PEDs 4 games Yes $123,750.00
Dion Jordan PEDs 4 games Yes $123,750.00
Rokevious Watkins Substance abuse 4 games No $123,750.00
LaVon Brazill PEDs 1 year No $570,000.00
Nigel Bradham Conduct detrimental to the league 1 game Yes TBA
Orlando Scandrick PEDs 4 games Yes $187,500.00
Brandon Meriweather Player safety violation 2 games No $106,875.00
Jerome Simpson Substance abuse 3 games No $168,199.00
Josh Gordon Substance abuse 1 year No $825,604
Aldon Smith Substance abuse/Personal Conduct 9 games No $1,314,255.00
Chris Lewis-Harris Substance abuse 2 games Yes $61,875
Wes Welker PEDs 4 games Yes $1,882,352

h/t to SBNation