With NFL players reporting for training camp this week, bipartisan leaders of the Energy and Commerce Committee today wrote to National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell and National Football League Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith seeking information about the status of the league's performance enhancing drug testing for human growth hormone as required by last year's collective bargaining agreement. The members expressed concern that internationally recognized standards and testing methods, such as those used for the upcoming Olympic Games, have not yet been implemented in the NFL, and raised questions about the commitment to do so.
In the letter to Goodell and Smith, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), and Ranking Member G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) wrote, "It has been nearly one year since the National Football League and its Players Association ratified their collective bargaining accord August 4, 2011. At that time, we were especially encouraged that agreement had been reached on testing for human growth hormone (HGH). Like many in Congress, we believed such testing was overdue. We expected implementation prior to the start of the 2011 season, but that milestone came and went with the agreement unfulfilled.
"Without HGH testing, the performance enhancing drug provisions in your collective bargaining agreement will not be able to effectively deter the use of this drug. And this failure sends a terrible message to young athletes and fans that player safety and a level playing field are not priorities."
The committee leaders continued, "We have been reluctant to engage more deeply in this matter, believing this is a problem best solved by allowing labor and management to follow through on their agreement. But as the upcoming Olympics reminds us, performance enhancing drug testing is a critical tool for protecting athletes, the integrity of the games they play, and the health and safety of aspiring athletes. It is time for the NFL to follow the Olympic model and start testing for HGH. Until you do, questions will remain about the commitment of the athletes and owners of the NFL to health, safety, and fair play."