Anti-doping agency assails NFL policy, despite changes

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Here's an interesting article from USA Today by Larry Weisman on the NFL's joke-of-a-doping policy:

The NFL's expanded testing for steroids and stamina-enhancing EPO moved the league closer to the standards set by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which has been a persistent critic.

But Gary Wadler, an internist who serves on WADA's prohibited-lists and -methods committee, sees room for more improvements that would bring the program in line with world code.

"They need to get into the end zone, which is with WADA," Wadler says. "That's the ultimate place where they need to be."

Wadler says no sports league can keep up with the technology of the industry, leading him to call for "delegation" to an outside agency.

Wadler also does not understand the adamancy of the NFL Players Association concerning testing for HGH (human growth hormone). The NFL on Wednesday announced a minimum $500,000 grant to the UCLA Olympic testing lab and others researching tests for HGH but the NFLPA rejects blood tests as invasive.

Gene Upshaw, the NFLPA's executive director, does not seem inclined to bend after negotiating an increase in annual urine tests from 10,000 to 12,000.

"There is no reliable test for HGH. The blood test that they use in the Olympics they found was not reliable, and one of the reasons is, you almost have to test right after someone ingested it — or however they get it in. It's not like steroids where it's in your system for 30 to 40 days. This (test) has to happen in a matter of hours. That's what they tell us," Upshaw says.

"So until there's a reliable test, it's premature to truly consider it. And I'm still not in favor of the whole blood-testing issue. I haven't crossed that hurdle yet. There are just too many bad things with blood that I'm concerned about."

Wadler disputes the idea that there are no accurate tests for HGH.

"The fact of the matter is that there is a test. There are several tests," he says, and an antibody needed to perform the tests will be available commercially worldwide this year. Absent screening for HGH, Wadler says, "Basically you've got a free ride for what is not an insignificant drug."

Still, Upshaw dislikes blood testing.

"With the blood test, they're taking it from you by sticking you with the needle," he says. "They might be big, tough football players, but they don't like getting poked with a big needle. I know I don't."

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Mike Young

Mike Young

Founder of ELITETRACK at Athletic Lab
Mike has a BS in Exercise Physiology from Ohio University, an MSS in Coaching Science from Ohio University & a PhD in Biomechanics from LSU. Additionally, he has been recognized as a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, a Level 3 coach by USA Track & Field, a Level 2 coach by USA Weightlifting.
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