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Judge to Rule on Players' Suit Against NFL Drug Plan

July 11, 1986|United Press International

WASHINGTON — Federal Judge Barrington Parker will hear arguments from the National Football League and the NFL Players Assn. today in a hearing on the union's request for a court order to block Commissioner Pete Rozelle's new drug-testing plan.

A spokesman for Parker, a judge of the District Court of the District of Columbia, said Thursday that the hearing is set for 10:30 a.m. EDT, and the judge "will rule on the temporary restraining order after the hearing."

The union is seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against the commissioner's drug plan, which would make the NFL the first major professional sports league in the United States to require random testing of players for illegal drugs.

The temporary restraining order is a 10-day legal barrier that would prevent Rozelle from implementing the drug-testing plan until the union's opposition to the program can be heard by a neutral arbitrator. The preliminary injunction would have the same effect but is longer lasting.

Union officials Wednesday asked Parker to block Rozelle's plan after the NFL Management Council refused to respond within 24 hours to a grievance filed Tuesday seeking neutral arbitration. The council is the league's negotiating arm.

Richard Berthelsen, the union's general counsel, said the union will argue that Rozelle violated the five-year collective bargaining agreement signed by the players' association and the council in 1982.

Berthelsen contends that Rozelle lacks the power to unilaterally institute the plan, superseding the players' contract with management, without the consent of the union. The union opposes such drug testing as an invasion of privacy.

Rozelle's plan, announced Monday, would force all players to submit to two random urinalysis tests during the regular season in addition to the urinalysis tests performed during the preseason physical.

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