Union says NFL wants DUI policy change

AP News
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Posted: Sep 05, 2014 6:33 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — The players' union says the NFL has asked for the right to immediately suspend players who are arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

NFL Players Association executives told The Associated Press on Friday that the league's proposal to increase penalties for DUI offenses includes a provision to suspend or discipline a player before the completion of his legal due process.

"They want to immediately discipline for an arrest," said George Atallah, the NFLPA's assistant executive director of external affairs.

Such a policy change would also go for coaches, owners and league staff.

"We prefer to discuss these issues directly with the union," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.

Atallah also noted that progress has been made on possible testing for HGH as well as other areas of the drug program. The union historically has not been interested in focusing on one issue, but on the entire drug policy.

That would make erroneous recent reports that the NFLPA was in hurry-up mode to negotiate changes that would help a specific player, such as Wes Welker. The Denver receiver was suspended Tuesday by the league for four games under the performance-enhancing drug policy.

"There is no artificial deadline," Atallah said. "A collectively bargained policy we are negotiating is on behalf of all players to benefit the most possible number of players for generations to come."

But both sides have held intensified talks on a variety of drug policy issues, what New York Giants long snapper and union executive committee member Zak DeOssie's calls "doing our due diligence."

HGH testing has been the most difficult obstacle, even though the two sides agreed in principle on it when the CBA was reached in 2011. Two plans under discussion center around the parameters of a population study, in which the players could not appeal scientific findings to a neutral arbitrator, or not having a population study, but players have the ability to challenge the science.

Both of those scenarios are being discussed, although the league did agree to the appealing process several years ago.

"We are on our way to getting that neutral arbitration and this HGH testing will move forward," DeOssie said. "We want it (done) right, we are in no rush."

Also being discussed is marijuana testing. The union feels the league's threshold for a positive test of 15 nanograms per millileter is too demanding, citing the IOC's threshold of 150 ngs, 10 times as high.

The NFL threshold was collectively bargained. But as NFLPA President Eric Winston noted, anyone within the vicinity of people smoking marijuana without partaking themselves could wind up testing positive at such a low number.

"The (potency) level is so much greater in marijuana now, the second-hand smoke can get a positive test," Winston said. "Just a guy who is around it second hand, then to have to go into the program?

"We don't want false positives, we have to move up the minimum to normal workplace standards."

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