The NFL and the player's association have finally agreed on a new performance-enhancing drug testing policy. Under the new guidelines, HGH testing will be immediately implemented, and a few players who were suspended under the old policy will be free to rejoin their teams and play this Sunday.
Broncos receiver Wes Welker, Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick, and Rams receiver Stedman Bailey all tested positive for amphetamines in the offseason, and were consequently suspended for the first four games of the season. This new policy, however, will treat offseason positive tests for amphetamines—which are often the result of a player taking a recreational drug like molly or Adderall—as a violation of the substance abuse policy rather than the performance-enhancing drug policy, meaning a first-time violation would not lead to a suspension.
The other big change is the HGH testing, which the league was insistent on including in the new policy. Here's how HGH suspensions will shake out:
A first violation will result in a suspension without pay of up to six games depending on the nature of the violation. Use of a diuretic or masking agent will result in a suspension without pay of two games. Use of a steroid, stimulant, HGH or other banned substance will result in a suspension without pay of four games. Evidence of an attempt to manipulate a test will result in a suspension without pay of six games.
A second violation of the steroid policy will result in a suspension without pay of 10 games. A third violation will result in banishment for a minimum of two years.
Appeals for positive tests will be heard by a third-party arbitrator, and Roger Goodell will have the authority to suspend players who do not test positive, but are involved in a Biogenesis-style scandal that links them to PEDs. In July, Pro Football Talk reported that approval of the new policy was being held up because Roger Goodell wanted the authority to arbitrate appeals on such cases, but the new policy indicates that appeals against suspensions that were not derived from a positive test will be heard by the CBA Appeals Panel.