With the 2011 season of the National Football League (NFL) set to launch Thursday evening, a leading House Democrat is pushing the league for blanket testing of a popular performance-enhancing drug.
In a letter to the heads of both the NFL and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) urged the leaders to resolve their differences over testing for human growth hormone (HGH) "without further delay."
"I have long believed that without some form of testing, there is little disincentive for players to use HGH," Waxman, the senior Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote Thursday to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith.
"I urge you to work together to put in place an independent and effective testing regime without further delay, so that testing may begin as soon as possible during the 2011 season."
As part of the new agreement between players and owners adopted last month, the players' union signed off on the concept of HGH testing, but has yet to agree on the method, which it's not convinced is reliable.
Last week, NFL officials announced that the impasse would prevent the league from testing for HGH before the start of the season.
Waxman's letter takes the players' union to task for its position.
"While blood testing for HGH involves a relatively new technique, there are virtually no questions about the scientific credibility of this testing methodology," he wrote. "The test is approved and used by the World Anti-Doping Agency, has been used for Olympic testing, and earlier this month was used in the United States to identify a professional athlete using the drug."
House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFeehery: The next Republican wave is coming Rift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power MORE (R-Ohio) on Thursday acknowledged the launch of the season in his own manner, explaining that the Republicans declined to schedule an official response to President Obama's jobs speech Thursday in part because Americans would "rather watch football."
Shortly afterwards, Rep. Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannBoehner says he voted for Trump, didn't push back on election claims because he's retired Boehner: Trump 'stepped all over their loyalty' by lying to followers Boehner finally calls it as he sees it MORE (R-Minn.), a candidate for the White House in 2012, announced she would provide a response independent of party leaders.