International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound says there is known and suspected use of human growth hormone in the NFL and claims union lawyers who seek more information about testing for the performance-enhancing drug "flock to the pseudo-science like ants to a picnic."
Writing an op-ed piece for Play True magazine, the official publication of the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Montreal lawyer and former WADA president, chides NFL Players Association's lawyers for using delay tactics to keep the testing from starting this season.
The labour contract that ended the NFL lockout in August included a provision for HGH testing as soon as this season — but not until the NFLPA approved the process. That hasn't happened, in part because the NFLPA says it needs more information about the test.
Pound is widely known for his outspoken stances on a number of anti-doping issues — criticizing cyclists, golfers and hockey players, among others, for not cleaning up their act on the anti-doping front.
Now, he's taking aim at the NFL players, who have delayed by at least a season the implementation of a testing program they agreed to in principle this summer.
"Even more resourceful off the field than on it, the players, acting through their union, the NFLPA, have turned to their ubiquitous lawyers to throw as much sand as money can buy into the gears of an effective testing program," Pound wrote in his opinion piece. "So, the lawyers, in a feat of self-generated alchemy, have turned themselves into scientists and now spout supposedly principled concerns about the reliability of scientific tests for HGH."
The HGH test was approved for use by WADA in 2004 — a signal, Pound wrote, that the "knowledgeable scientific community is satisfied with the reliability of the HGH tests."
The union, however, disagrees. Its main critiques of the test are that it hasn't been peer-reviewed by scientists outside of WADA, that there's no information about the population studies they used to formulate the test and the NFL doesn't have an outside appeals process as part of its program.
"The players are not going to let the Dick Pound self-promotional tour derail the principles we believe in related to a clean and fair game," said NFLPA spokesman George Atallah. "Our players and scientists have asked WADA for information and transparency. The response from WADA and Dick Pound has been limited to childish public statements that are thickheaded and false."
WADA maintains there is plenty of literature available to answer any questions about the test and Pound agrees with that notion, while chiding the union for muddying the issue enough to delay the testing.
"Predictably ... there are some who do not allow lack of familiarity with the cutting edge of the field get in the way of trying to cast doubt on a test which they cannot evaluate," he wrote. "The lawyers, equally predictably, flock to the pseudo-science like ants to a picnic."