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NFL Seeks Better Steroid Testing

League wants to upgrade its detection program to be in line with Olympic standards, but it would require union approval.

March 31, 2005|From Associated Press

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

The league has always adhered to the standard set by the International Olympic Committee, which recently upgraded its testing after new equipment became available.

Any change in the NFL's policy would require approval by the NFL Players Assn. No date for a meeting with the players has been set.

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 Wednesday from Associated Press.

The NFL's move applies to testosterone levels in steroid tests. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league was also seeking to establish another testing lab and would like to add human growth hormone testing when that is feasible.

The NFL has proposed that the issue 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 to 1 of testosterone to epitestosterone, another natural hormone, was deemed to be a failed test. The new ratio adopted by the World Anti-Doping Agency is 4 to 1, one that the NFL proposes to implement. The most likely natural ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone in humans is 1 to 1.

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.

The proposed changes come as steroid use in baseball has fallen under Congressional scrutiny.

The change is not related to a report on CBS' "60 Minutes Wednesday" that identified Todd Sauerbrun, Jeff Mitchell and Todd Steussie as having had steroid prescriptions filled within two weeks of the team's appearance in the 2004 Super Bowl at Houston.

The report said the prescriptions were provided by a South Carolina doctor under investigation by federal authorities.

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