September 13, 2014 / 9:16 PM / in 3 years

Issues still need to be resolved in new league drug policy

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A new NFL drug policy that would allow testing for HGH for the first time and raise the threshold for use of marijuana has not yet been formally approved, the National Football League said.

The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) agreed to terms for a new policy following a vote by player representatives on Friday and empowered negotiators to finalize an agreement with the league.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, however, said there was still work to be done.

“We have not yet reached an agreement with the union on revisions to our drug programs. There continue to be significant unresolved issues,” Aiello tweeted on Friday night.

Asked on Saturday if there was a timetable for installing a new doping agreement, Aiello told Reuters in an e-mail: “We are continuing to work through the remaining issues.”

George Atallah, assistant executive director at the NFLPA, also acknowledged there was work to be done.

“Term sheet has to be signed off on by the NFL,” he tweeted to Reuters. “Then we will work on the full policies. As fast as the lawyers go...”

Several suspended NFL players were left in limbo as a result of the policy not being finalized.

“I have no idea,” a Dallas Cowboys spokesman said when asked about cornerback Orlando Scandrick’s status for Sunday’s game against Tennessee.

Scandrick had been suspended for four games after testing positive for a substance involving an amphetamine.

Previously use of amphetamines were strictly considered performance enhancing drugs by the league but now the off season use of them would be penalized as ‘substance abuse’.

But should the new policy be enacted as retroactive, players who were banned for amphetamine use during the most recent off season could have their suspensions lifted under the new policy, and there would be no suspension for a first-time offense such as Scandrick’s.

Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker, who was suspended for four games because he had tested positive for an amphetamine during the off season, also could be returning early if the policy is approved by the NFL and is retroactive.

So could Miami Dolphins players Dion Jordan and Reshad Jones, who are serving four-game suspensions for positive tests.

The union on Friday trumpeted the prospects of the new doping agreement.

“This is an historic moment for our players and our league,” NFLPA President Eric Winston said in a statement on Friday.

“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.”

The NFL had struggled to find agreement with the union over HGH testing for years.

According to the NFLPA, they would agree to tests for HGH this season but that “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.”

Editing by Gene Cherry

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