Report: NFL eyes WADA for drug tests

Updated: May 10, 2011, 12:46 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The NFL may turn to the World Anti-Doping Agency to oversee testing of players for performance-enhancing drugs, The New York Times reported, one of many changes it is mulling if forced by the courts to operate without a new collective bargaining agreement with the players.

A federal appeals court could require the league to end the lockout and implement rules for operating this season. The NFL currently has a temporary stay keeping the lockout in place after a U.S. District Court judge granted an injunction sought by the players to lift the work stoppage.

Michael Gans, the clerk of the U.S. 8th Circuit Court in St. Louis, which will hear the NFL's appeal, told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that he did not expect a ruling Monday on a permanent stay. The NFL's appeal is scheduled to be heard June 3. The league filed its opening brief to the court Monday, again stating that the proper forum for the labor dispute isn't in court.

The Times reported Monday, citing an unidentified NFL official briefed on its planning, that the league is discussing getting WADA involved in drug testing. That could eventually lead to players being blood tested for human growth hormone for the first time.

"Our thought has been we have always been looking to make our program as effective as it can be," the official told The Times.

"There have been some things, HGH is one of them, that the union has resisted," the official told the newspaper. "When we get to the point where there is not a party involved, maybe we should consider what we consider important to keep pace with science and trends."

NFLPA spokesman George Atallah would not comment when contacted by The Times.

After talks broke down in March, the NFL Players Association dissolved and 10 players brought an antitrust lawsuit against the owners in March. The lockout began March 12 and has been in force for all but one day since.

Judge Susan Richard Nelson granted the players' injunction on April 26, the league reopened for business on April 29, then shut down again when the stay was granted later that day.

Besides drug testing, the NFL will also have to implement rules governing free agency for the 2011 season if the lockout is lifted.

It was thought that the league would use rules from the 2010 season, the last year of the expired CBA, but Sports Business Daily reported Monday that a group from the NFL has been drafting rules that are different than those from 2010 for the 2011 season. A source told the Daily, however, that the NFL hasn't decided yet on the set of rules it will use if forced to start the league year.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello responded to the New York Times and Sports Business Daily reports via Twitter and in an email to The Associated Press.

"Our goal has at all times been the same -- to operate under a negotiated set of procedures that are agreed to by the clubs and the NFLPA," Aiello wrote. "The current litigation has created a significant amount of uncertainty and we are therefore considering a wide range of alternatives depending on developments."

Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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