NFL Players Union Accepts Revised Drug Policy

By McCarton Ackerman 09/16/14

Despite players accepting the deal, tensions remain between both sides.

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The NFL Players Union has voted to accept a revised drug policy, but plenty of proposed changes were left on the cutting room floor and an NFL spokesman said there are still significant “unresolved issues.”

The significant changes include human growth hormone testing being implemented for the current season. The threshold for a positive marijuana test has increased of 15 nanograms per milliliter to 35 ng/ml. Some players had previously complained that the current threshold was so low that a positive test could occur if one was in the vicinity of marijuana smoke.

Players convicted of driving under the influence will also receive two-game suspensions for a first offense; a proposal made by the NFL to immediately suspend a player upon arrest for DUI while the case made its way through the legal system was rejected. Arbitration for appeals under the PED and substance abuse policies was also approved, in addition to fines of up to $500,000 and/or termination of a job in cases where player confidentiality under the drug policy was breached.

"This is an historic moment for our players and our league," said NFLPA President Eric Winston. "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."

But while the drug policy was accepted, it has not been formally approved yet and all current player suspensions remain in place. Once put into place, the year-long suspension of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon for a second positive marijuana test will be reduced to 10 games. Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker will also have his suspension lifted once the policy is approved; he has currently been banned for four games after testing positive for amphetamines. Welker has denied deliberately taking amphetamines, but has accepted the consequences of his positive test.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.