<
>

League following Olympics lead

3/31/2005

NEW YORK -- The NFL is seeking to upgrade its steroid
testing program to bring it back in line with Olympic standards.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Wednesday that the move, which
would require approval by the NFL Players Association, is not
related to a CBS News report involving Carolina players and
steroids.

The network was to report on "60 Minutes Wednesday" that
Panthers players Todd Sauerbrun and Jeff Mitchell, and former
player Todd Steussie, had steroid prescriptions filled by a South
Carolina doctor now under investigation by federal authorities.

The NFL's move, which applies to testosterone levels in steroid
tests, also comes at a time when steroid use in baseball has come
under Congressional scrutiny.

"We have always adhered to the standard set by the
International Olympic Committee," Aiello said. "Since the IOC has
made its standards tougher, this was done to stay in line with
it."

Gene Upshaw, the union's executive director, has been a staunch
advocate of more stringent steroid testing. Upshaw is vacationing
in Hawaii and did not immediately return calls placed Wednesday by
The Associated Press.

For the last 15 years, the NFL has had one of the toughest
steroid-testing programs in sports, with random testing and
suspensions for a first-time failure. Over that period, there have
been 44 suspensions.

Last week, New Orleans Saints coach Jim Haslett acknowledged
using steroids as a player in the early 1980s, a time when steroid
use was rampant in the league. He told two newspapers that many
Pittsburgh Steelers used steroids in the late '70s, then apologized
for those remarks.

In January, with new testing equipment available, the World
Anti-Doping Agency toughened its standards. The International
Olympic Committee adopted those new standards. The NFL then
proposed that such a move be taken up in May, when the league and
the union annually discuss changes in drug policy.

Under the old standard, a ratio above 6-1 of testosterone to
epitestosterone, another natural hormone, was deemed to be a failed
test. The new ratio adopted by WADA is 4-1, one that the NFL
proposes to implement in its new policy. The most likely natural
ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone in humans is 1:1.

The CBS report said the three Carolina players had prescriptions
for testosterone cream filled within two weeks of the Panthers'
appearance in the 2004 Super Bowl. In addition to the cream, which
is banned by the NFL, Sauerbrun -- one of the league's top punters --
obtained syringes and the injectable steroid Stanozolol, which also
is banned by the league, the report said.

The prescriptions reportedly were written by Dr. James Shortt,
the subject of a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation for
allegedly prescribing steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.