INDIANAPOLIS — No one outside the NFL office knows whether there truly was an outbreak of Adderall abuse last season among players, including three Patriots. Under its steroid policy, the NFL is powerless to disclose the true nature of a violation.
But the league continues to want that to change, according to Adolpho Birch, the senior vice president of law and labor policy.
“One of the features of the [Major League Baseball] appeals system that we have proposed from the beginning has been to be able to disclose the substance that formed the basis of the violation,” Birch said on Thursday. “It is largely for that point, to make sure that everybody is clear on what that substance was so that there is no misinformation, and ability to go behind and sort of minimize what the nature of an individual’s violation is.
“We think that’s very important, not only for accuracy but also to help other players understand the real types of substances that potentially could lead to a positive result. And so we think from an educational standpoint, it’s important that everyone understands exactly what substances were involved.”
The players’ union, which has said it would take the MLB drug policy today, including HGH testing, has balked at disclosures for privacy reasons.
The NFL had an increase of in-season violations of its steroid policy this past season, and at least seven players said, either publicly or through media reports, that the amphetamine Adderall was to blame.
Brandon Spikes (in 2010), Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Bolden, and Aqib Talib (while with the Buccaneers) were Patriots who claimed the use of Adderall, which treats attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, was the reason for positive test results, and subsequent four-game suspension.
But no one knows for sure. The NFL’s steroid policy also includes hormones, estrogen blockers, diuretics, and stimulants such as amphetamines (as well as over-the-counter cold medicines containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine).
So, after a period when NFL players claimed taking cough medicine caused their violations, they seemed to move on to Adderall, which is allowed with permission from the league medical staff.
Better to say you forgot to get a prescription than to admit you were caught using steroids.
“I hear a lot of discussion about transparency and how important that is, but when it comes to issues like this or, for example, being able to correct obvious misrepresentations that undermine the effectiveness of a policy, that’s another feature of the MLB policy that we have pushed for, for a number of years now,” Birch said. “Because in our view it undermines the policy itself when misrepresentations can be made without them being corrected.”
The league is clearly frustrated with the players’ union stalling over a revamping of the drug policy, including adding HGH testing.
“It’s hard to understand what it is about the [appeals] system that they’re saying they need that we have not made a proposal on,” Birch said. “It is clear that in response to the recent set of issues raised, we put forward a proposal that addressed every one of the stated concerns that they had concerning the appeals process.
“There is absolutely no reason for this to have taken this long and us not to have testing implemented. We should have been more than a year into this by now . . . It’s just enough. We’ve been through this for two years now.”
Dolphins in pursuit
The Dolphins, who have $45 million in cap space and nine picks in the upcoming draft, have been looking up at the Patriots in the AFC East standings for most of the last decade.
General manager Jeff Ireland knows there’s a gap, and he’s working to close it.
“They’ve won the division quite a bit, so we have to close that gap,” Ireland said. “We plan to do our best job, put our best foot forward getting that done this offseason. Now, whether we can completely close the gap, we’ve got to get back on the field and close the gap on the field.”
The Dolphins have several free agents, including running back Reggie Bush, wide receiver Brian Hartline, cornerback Sean Smith, and defensive tackle Randy Starks, and Ireland said “there’s certainly a likelihood” the team will be using its franchise tag.
Standing by trade
Talib was dealt to the Patriots along with a seventh-round pick at last season’s trading deadline, with Tampa Bay getting a fourth-round pick in return.
Greg Schiano, a friend of Bill Belichick’s who will be entering his second season as Tampa Bay’s coach, still feels good about the trade.Continued...