10:17pm: While the player reps voted to move forward with the new drug policy, the fact that there’s still no official deal means teams are being informed that suspended players are unlikely to be reinstated in time for this weekend’s games, tweets Rapoport.
8:13pm: “We have not yet reached an agreement with the union. There continue to be significant unresolved issues,” a league spokesperson tells Mortensen (Twitter link).
8:02pm: Just because the player reps gave the go-ahead for the NFLPA to finalize an agreement with the NFL doesn’t mean it’s official yet. As Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com tweets, there are still some “unresolved issues” to hammer out, perhaps including the reinstatement of suspended players for this weekend.
6:20pm: The 32 team player reps for the NFLPA voted today to approve the new drug policy proposed by the NFL, which will include HGH testing, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). The yes vote from the player reps allows NFLPA leadership to assent to the changes proposed to the policy by the league, tweets Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported (via Twitter) earlier this evening that the player reps were having a “heated discussion” about the league’s proposal, with no guarantee that it would pass. However, when the vote was taken, the player reps were in unanimous approval, tweets Rapoport.
“This is an historic moment for our Players and our League,” said NFLPA President Eric Winston in a statement. “We have collectively bargained drug policies that will keep the game clean and safe, but also provide our players with an unprecedented level of fairness and transparency. Players should be proud of their union for standing up for what was best for the game.”
The new agreement should allow certain suspended players, such as Wes Welker and Orlando Scandrick, to play as soon as this Sunday. Josh Gordon‘s year-long suspension will reportedly be reduced to 10 games under the new policy.
Here are the key modifications being introduced in the new policy, according to the NFLPA’s statement:
- NEUTRAL ARBITRATION: An Independent Arbitrator will hear appeals for positive test violations of both Substances of Abuse and Performance Enhancing Drug Policies. The NFL and NFLPA will jointly select, approve and pay for retention of 3-5 arbitrators.
- AMENDING MARIJUANA POLICIES: The threshold for a positive test for marijuana will increase to 35 ng/ml from the previous limit of 15 ng/ml. There will be additional steps for players who test positive for the substance before suspension.
- RETROACTIVITY: Discipline of players for certain violations in the 2014 League Year will have their discipline adjusted by certain aspects of the new policies.
- DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE: Players successfully rejected the league’s proposal to issue discipline upon arrest, prior to adjudication. A two-game suspension will be issued upon conviction or plea agreement for violations of law involving alcohol and driving.
- AMPHETAMINES: During the off-season, a first time positive test for amphetamines without a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) will now be evaluated under the Substances of Abuse Policy. During the season, a positive test without a TUE will continue to be a violation of the Performance Enhancing Drug Policy.
- HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE TESTING:Testing for hGH will occur in the 2014 season. Players have the right to challenge any aspect of the science of the hGH isoforms test. The collection of blood specimens is prohibited on game days.
- DISCIPLINE FOR BREACHES OF CONFIDENTIALITY: The NFL and NFLPA will have the right to retain independent investigators to review cases where player confidentiality as related to the drug policies has been breached. Employees of the NFL/NFLPA/Clubs, players, certified contract advisors (agents) and policy administrators found to be in violation will face fines up to $500,000 and/or termination or other discipline.