Do the NFL and Its Fans Care About Steroids?

In the wake of the notorious Alex Rodriguez/Biogenesis/performance enhancing drug (PED) scandal, fans have been questioning the lack of response from various other sporting organizations. The Biogenesis scandal has implicated more than just MLB players. Indeed, athletes from the NBA, MMA, tennis and NCAA have also been caught up in this scandal. Surprisingly, no players from the NFL have been implicated.

Since 2010, the NFL has adhered to its own steroid policies, which appears to be working.  Specifically, the NFL created the National Football League Policy on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances to explain its policies on testing, prohibited substances, and punishments for the parties that fail the test.

Substances prohibited by the 2010 policy include: anabolic steroids; peptide hormones (hGH, hCG, IGF-1, etc.); beta-2 agonists (clenbuterol, etc.); diuretics and other masking agents; ephedrine, amphetamines, and other stimulants; erythropoietin (EPO); and dietary supplements containing prohibited substances.

If an NFL player tests positive, he is suspended without pay for a minimum of four regular season or postseason games for his first offense. For a second offense, the player is suspended for a minimum of eight regular season or postseason games, and for the third offense, a player is suspended for one year. Players will not be paid during suspensions and are subject to discipline for positive tests at any time during the year. A request for reinstatement must be granted by the league commissioner.

In the 2013, the following players have been suspended for failing the tests:

  • Marcus Love, Minnesota Vikings — 4 games
  • Andre Holmes, Oakland Raiders — 4 games
  • Jarvis Jenkins, Washington Redskins — 4 games
  • Will Hill, New York Giants — 4 games
  • Weslye Saunders, Indianapolis Colts — 8 games
  • LaVon Brazil, Indianapolis Colts — 4 games
  • Brandon Collins, New York Giants — 4 games
  • Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns — 4 games
  • Gabe Miller, Chicago Bears — 4 games
  • Bruce Irvin, Seattle Seahawks — 4 games
  • Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars — 4 games
  • Daryl Washington, Arizona Cardinals — 4 games
  • Rob Jackson, Washington Redskins — 4 games 

The NFL’s steroid policy appears to be working, as they have avoided an MLB-level controversy thus far. However, as the list above demonstrates, doping continues to be an issue for the league. Unlike MLB, the NFL does not use blood testing, which eliminates the possibility of locating some of the prohibited substances. And while MLB gives random blood tests to all its players in order to rid the game of steroids and PEDs, the NFL has repeatedly refused to use blood tests on its players. Perhaps this is a testament to just how popular professional football is in America: No one seems to care.

 2011 League Policy for Players (Synopsis)

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