Sports drug testing policies: NFL, NBA, NHL, Olympics

Sports drug testing policies: NFL, NBA, NHL, Olympics
January 9, 2013, 1:15 pm
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There is no unified agreement in the NFL on a protocol for blood tests to detect HGH. (AP)

The Baseball Hall of Fame votes are in for the class of 2013 and the message has been sent to all Major Leaguers: If the voters believed you cheated through the use of PEDs your place in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown may become dusty before you are voted in.

[RELATED: 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame voting breakdown]

In my last article, “Biz Ball” reviewed the drug testing policies put in place by Major League Baseball. Next, let’s take a look at the NFL, NBA, NHL and Olympics and their PED testing protocols.

[UPDATE: MLB to expand blood testing for HGH]

The National Football League's banned substance policy was created in 1987 and for many years was held up as the toughest standard in American professional sports.

The NFL can perform random drug testing year round. Every player in the league gets tested at least once a year through urine sampling. The NFL reviews their methods and systems quarterly and is working on constantly upgrading their protocol.

The league’s agreement with the players association includes a testing provision for HGH (Human Growth Hormone.) However, after two seasons into the new Collective Bargaining Agreement there is no unified agreement on a protocol for the blood tests to detect HGH. Under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, players aren’t required to admit which PED they have taken if test results are positive.

Football is the ultimate collision sport played by rock solid “state of the art” athletes. It relies on speed, size and strength.This shortcoming in the NFL HGH testing protocol needs to be toughened up and made more transparent. Specifics as to which substance a player remains confusing to the media and the millions of NFL fans who are supporting the league.

[RELATED: Pro sports drug testing: Major League Baseball]

First: A four game suspension without pay. 
Second incident: Eight game suspension, no salary.
Third: One year suspension, no pay.

In 1983 the NBA adopted its anti-drug policy. Based on reasonable cause all players are subject to random testing during pre-season with rookies tested three times on a random basis throughout the season.  The league works  with The National Center for Drug Free Sport to administer tests and transmit the results to the Office of Commissioner David Stern.

First Offense: 5 game suspension and mandatory attendance in the leagues anti-doping program
Second Incidence: 10 game suspension, continued counseling.
Third time: 25 game suspension, continued counseling.
Fourth: Minimum 2 year suspension.

For “drugs of abuse” there are similar penalties.

A DUI conviction or a player's first positive test for marijuana results in mandatory entrance into league's substance abuse program.

Second offense: $25,000 fine and possible suspension.
Third: 5 game suspension without pay.
Fourth: 10 game suspension without pay.

Hockey’s drug testing policies started in 2005.  PED testing has less restrictions and is more open than MLB, NFL and NBA. NHL testing occurs randomly up to three times a year. and is done through urine analysis. Testing takes place on teams off days during the regular season. No testing is done during the playoffs or off season.

First Incidence: 20 game suspension without pay.
Second: 60 games without pay
Third: Lifetime ban.

The Olympics have been a hotbed of notorious athletic cheaters. Ben Johnson and Marion Jones having been the PED poster children of note. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) now has one of the strictest drug testing protocols in all of sport.  Olympic athletes can be randomly tested 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, no exceptions.

The test consists of both blood and urine -- to nab those who are taking HGH. The first five finishers of each Olympic event are immediately tested following their heat.

First incidence: If an athlete tests positive they are given a two year ban from all Olympic competitions.
Second incidence: Lifetime ban.

The cautionary tale in all of sports is cycling. Doping has turned Lance Armstrong, the most decorated peddler of all time into a pariah and sent the sport over the “Pharmaceutical Cliff.”

At the end of the day, the world of sports is built on a triad of trust between owners, players and fans.

The ultimate jury on PED cheaters in sport are the fans. No matter what tests and penalties leagues and organizing bodies put in place, as long as fans keep buying tickets and driving TV ratings up and up some form of cheating will most likely continue.

Over his 40-year career, sports executive Andy Dolich has held positions at the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland A's, Golden State WarriorsMemphis Grizzlies and Philadelphia 76ers. He is the Sports Business Insider for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.