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Goodell continues push for HGH testing

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell responds to a question

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell responds to a question during a news conference at the NFL meetings. (May 25, 2010) Credit: AP

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell continued his push to have all players tested for human growth hormone (HGH) to "protect the integrity of our game." 

The league has long been supportive of a testing program for HGH, although the players union has resisted on the grounds that they believe there is no reliable test. The league is currently negotiating with the NFL Players Association on a new collective bargaining agreement, and HGH testing is part of the talks.

"It's very important. It's about the integrity of the game. It's about player health and safety," Goodell told the Associated Press during a visit to the Redskins' training camp in Ashburn, Va. "It's about making sure that we're doing everything to protect our players and to protect the integrity of our game."

The NFL doesn't currently test for HGH, but players can be suspended if there is proof that they've used the substance.

"We think it's important to have HGH testing, to make sure we ensure that we can take performance-enhancing substances out of the game. Unfortunately, the only way to test for that, on any reliable basis right now, is through blood testing," Goodell said.

"And if your objective is to take it out of the game," he added, "that's the only way to do it. ... That's why we proposed it."

The NFLPA replied to Goodell's remarks by referring to a statement released earlier this year when similar calls were made for HGH testing. "The NFLPA along with the NFL has supported research to find a suitable test that will detect sustained HGH use," director of player services Stacey Robinson, a former Giants wide receiver, said. "We believe in and collectively bargained for a system that supports the testing of all banned substances. We look forward to discussing the NFL's proposed blood testing program in CBA meetings."

Last month, Major League Baseball implemented random blood testing for HGH in the minors, making it the first U.S. professional sports league to take that aggressive step against doping. Baseball was able to impose that on players with minor-league contracts because they are not members of the players' association, which means blood testing is not subject to collective bargaining.

During his appearance at Redskins camp, Goodell said NFL staff contacted Santana Moss about the Washington receiver's connection to a Canadian doctor charged with smuggling and supplying HGH.

Moss has told teammates he received treatments — not involving banned substances — from Dr. Anthony Galea. A U.S. criminal complaint filed in May charged Galea with conspiracy, smuggling, unlawful distribution of HGH and introducing the unapproved drug Actovegin into interstate commerce.

Tiger Woods is among the athletes who have acknowledged being treated by Galea. Woods has said he met with federal authorities investigating the doctor.

"We're following it. It's obviously part of an overall criminal investigation that we obviously are cooperating with and following very closely," Goodell said. "Certainly when a determination is made, then we'll determine our next step."

Asked about a possible suspension for Moss, Goodell said: "I like to know the facts first."

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