The NFL and the players union have agreed upon new rules for HGH and PED testing, and the policies will go into effect immediately. For the Seahawks, the impact will be felt this weekend, as Broncos' receiver Wes Welker's suspension has been overturned and he'll be available to play.
Here's the official statement from the NFL:
The NFL and NFL Players Association have reached agreement on wide-ranging improvements to their policy on performance enhancing substances that include the use of third-party arbitration appeals of positive tests and implementation of testing for human growth hormone within the next few weeks.
The NFL and NFLPA are nearing an agreement on changes to the substance abuse policy that is expected to be announced when it is completed.
Key revisions to the program on performance enhancing substances are:
- HGH testing will be fully implemented this season. Information on testing procedures will be sent to clubs and players within the week, and testing should begin by the end of this month.
- Appeals of positive tests in the performance enhancing drug programs (including HGH) will be heard by third-party arbitrators jointly selected and retained by the NFL and NFLPA. Appeals will be processed more expeditiously under improved rules and procedures.
- Discipline of players for certain violations in the 2014 league year will be adjusted to reflect the new policy. Wes Welker of the Denver Broncos, Orlando Scandrick of the Dallas Cowboys and Stedman Bailey of the St. Louis Rams will be eligible to return to their teams this week.
- Discipline for violations of the performance enhancing drug policy (including for HGH) will be modified.
- 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.
- Players who test positive for banned stimulants in the off-season will no longer be suspended. Instead, the player will be referred to the substance abuse program. Players who test positive for banned stimulants during the season will continue to be suspended without pay for four games.
- In cases involving discipline for violations other than positive tests (for example, a violation of law), the Commissioner will retain his current disciplinary authority. A player will have a right of appeal based on due process issues or a claim of disparate punishment. This appeal will be heard by a member of the existing CBA Appeals Panel.
Previously, the Collective Bargaining Agreement ratified in 2011 utilized the policies in place under the 2006 CBA.