NFL, NFLPA agree to hGH population study

Brian McIntyre

Nearly two years after negotiations were completed on the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, the NFL and NFLPA are actualy moving closer to reaching an agreement on implementing a human growth hormone (hGH) testing program.

The two sides have agreed to an hGH population study, which NFLPA membership was informed about via e-mail on Monday.

"Shutdown Corner" has obtained the NFLPA's e-mail regarding the population study, which states that Dr. Alan Rogol, M.D., Ph.D has been jointly hired by the NFLPA and NFL to oversee the study. Biostatistician Donald Berry, Ph.D., will design the study protocol and conduct the analysis, while a second biostatistician will independently review both the protocol and the analysis. The identity of the second biostatistician was not released.

From the NFLPA e-mail:

"Every player will provide a blood sample for the population study during the pre-season training camp physicals. The blood sample from each player will immediately be sent to the laboratory for analysis only for the purpose of the hGH population study; no other use will be made of any blood sample. After the laboratory has processed all player blood samples, the scientists will perform the calculations and analysis necessary to determine the proper decision limit for NFL players."

The NFL and NFLPA agreed to hGH testing as part of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, but the players, who have questioned the reliability of a blood-based test, have been slow to approve a process to conduct a testing program. The population study should help, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done before a full agreement on hGH testing is place. One issue that the NFL and NFLPA needs to resolve is one of player discipline, as they'll sure seek a neutral arbitrator.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that, despite the population study, "no NFL players are expected to be suspended for HGH use this season".