The Canadian Football League and the CFL Players Association have reached an agreement on a significantly expanded drug testing policy for performance enhancing drugs for the 2016 season.
Under the terms of the new agreement, the number of tests conducted will increase dramatically from 35 per cent of players being randomly tested to a number of tests that would be equivalent to 100 per cent of the players in the league. It is possible some players could be tested more than once, and a small number not at all.
There will also be a new requirement that recognizes sanctions from the CIS, NCAA, NFL, and other World Anti-Doping Association tested sports. The tests will be conducted by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports, and that is significant because just last June the league severed ties with the CCES over it’s refusal to conduct tests for the CFL. The dispute arose because of the former league policy that did not suspend first time offenders or uphold University sanctions for those testing positive for PED’s.
CFL Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge hailed the agreement as a major step forward. “We’re pleased that our persistence has produced a dramatically improved drug testing policy that safeguards the health and safety of our players, protects the integrity of our game. and sends the right message to young athletes- including those who aspire to join our league,” said Orridge via a league news release.
Newly elected CFL Players Association President Jeff Keeping of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers also sees this agreement as being a critical step forward for the league.
“This new performance enhancing drug testing policy meets the needs and concerns expressed by CFLPA members to ensure that all players compete on a level playing field while improving player safety and making drug testing consistent with all other professional sports leagues,” said Keeping in the same news release.
Players who test positive will receive a two game suspension for a first offense, a nine game suspension for a second doping violation, a third strike will result in a season long suspension, while a fourth positive test will earn the offender a lifetime ban.
Suspensions will be made public, only once every appeal process has been exhausted whereas in the previous policy, the identities of first time offenders were not revealed.
There is also a provision in the policy that allows for the Commissioner to reduce a suspension under “an exceptional circumstance or inadvertence.”