The NFL and NFLPA have finally agreed on a new drug policy for NFL players. Deemed as making "wide-ranging improvements" to the policy, it also includes changes in the testing policy.
Although not all details have been released on the new policy, here are some of the changes that have been made which will impact players this season, since the policy goes into effect immediately.
By the end of September, the testing for Human Growth Hormone (HGH) will finally be in place. Players will be randomly tested for the banned substance and will be punished under the new policy if found guilty of using it.
Not only will cases be dealt with in a quicker fashion than in the past, but appeals by anyone found guilty of abusing the new policy will be heard by a third-party, neutral arbitrator.
Discipline for breaking the new drug policy will also be altered. A first-time offender will get up to a six-game suspension depending on how the drugs were utilized. Using diuretics or a masking agent will result in a two-game suspension. Using steroids, stimulants, HGH or other banned substances will result in a four-game suspension. Attempting to manipulate a test will result in a six-game suspension.
Any second violation of the new policy will result in a 10-game suspension, while a third offense will result in a minimum, two-year banishment from the league.
Testing positive for off-season banned substances will not result in a suspension but, rather, entry into the NFL's substance-abuse program.
In cases involving disciplinary action from law enforcement, the commissioner will continue to hold decision-making authority.
Of interest to Pittsburgh Steelers fans, according to Ray Fiitipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, if running back Le'Veon Bell is convicted of DUI, or pleads guilty, he will serve a two-game suspension for the offense under the new policy.
Steelers President Art Rooney II, released this statement via the team's official website:
"I am pleased that after much hard work our negotiating team and the NFLPA have conlcluded a final agreement on the implementation of a new Steroids program, including HGH testing and discipline. The health and safety of our players continues to be paramount, and under this new testing program our players can feel confident that they are competing on a level playing field."