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NFLPA reps vote to approve new drug policy that includes HGH testing

The NFL Players Association Board of Representatives approved new revised policies for performance-enhancing drugs and substances of abuse, the players' union announced Friday night.

That includes the implementation of testing for human growth hormones and amending marijuana policies with decreased threshold for a positive test for marijuana along with retroactive reduction or removal of discipline for players under the NFL substance-abuse policy for this season.

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For an agreement to be finalized, though, the NFL owners have to sign off on any changes to the drug policy.

"We have not yet reached an agreement with the union on revisions to our drug programs," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement hours after the players' union made their announcement. "There continue to be significant unresolved issues."

The NFLPA leadership trumpeted the announcement earlier Friday evening.

"This is an historic moment for our Players and our League," NFLPA president Eric Winston said 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."

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith issued the following statement: "We stood up and fought for what was right. Twenty-five years ago it was NFL players that set out to make the game clean by asking for and collectively bargaining the first drug testing policy in professional sports. Today, this union and these player leaders have approved a policy that will serve the game well for generations of players to come."

Here's a checklist of policy points issued by the NFLPA in a release:

* 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 suspensions.

* 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 offseason, 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.

Previously, the collective bargaining agreement ratified in 2011 utilized the policies in place under the 2006 collective bargaining agreement.

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awilson@baltsun.com

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