On Tuesday, Jan. 24, the AP reported that International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound believes there is both known and suspected use of human growth hormone (HGH) in the NFL. Pound criticizes the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) for delaying testing in the league.
When I first read this story, I wondered why Pound was going after the NFLPA. He has no association with the NFL, its players or the sport in general. While I understand how someone could suspect players of using HGH, Pound doesn't have proof that anyone in the NFL is using the hormone. What does he know about the league and its players? He's not in a locker room with any of the NFL teams, and he doesn't know much of anything about the league as a whole. Who is Pound to judge the NFLPA and those associated with it?
Pound represents an organization that has had its share of problems with drug testing and corruption. In addition, the IOC isn't a sports league with franchises; it's run differently than the NFL. With that in mind, I have a hard time giving much credence to what Pound is saying.
However, the more I think about it, the more I realize that the NFL and its players aren't going to institute HGH testing on their own. Baseball didn't do it until Congress began questioning MLB and its players during the steroids crisis, and other leagues then followed suit. The NFL isn't going to make changes on its own. It needs to be pushed into doing it.
While I have a hard time listening to a person who has zero involvement in the sport, I do understand where Pound is coming from. Performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) are still an issue in many professional sports, and if testing is available to help stop cheating, then the NFLPA has a responsibility to push for it.
In 2004, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) approved an HGH test, but the NFLPA refuses to adopt it. The Players Association has multiple reasons for refusing to institute the test, but the one that stands out to me is that it hasn't been peer-reviewed by anyone outside of WADA. I don't see how the NFLPA could approve a test that could change its players' lives forever if no one outside of WADA has been able to confirm its accuracy and reliability.
I firmly believe that the NFL needs to have PED testing in place, but I think Pound is wrong to push it on the league and its Players Association until WADA's version is verified by someone outside of the organization.
Derek Ciapala has been a Rams fan since he was a child and the team was in Los Angeles. His favorite Rams moments include Flipper Anderson's 336-yard receiving night against the Saints in 1989, and their miracle 1999 run to their first Super Bowl victory. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala.