Oversight panel to grill NFL players on use of human growth hormone

The heads of the House Oversight Committee are planning to grill professional football players directly in their probe of human growth hormone use in the National Football League.


Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) told the executive director of the NFL’s union on Monday that their panel would be reaching out to the league’s players to see if they think human growth hormone (HGH) use is a problem.

The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) pledged 18 months ago to help implement an HGH testing strategy within the league. But negotiations between the union group and the NFL about testing guidelines and safety mechanisms appear to have stalled. Now lawmakers have moved to retake control over the slow progress.

“We are disappointed with the NFLPA’s remarkable recalcitrance, which has prevented meaningful progress on the issue,” Issa and Cummings wrote in a joint letter to NFLPA’s executive director DeMaurice Smith on Monday.

“We intend to take a more active role to determine whether the position you have taken — that HGH is not a serious concern and that the test for HGH is unreliable — is consistent with the beliefs of rank and file NFL players.

“Although you have requested previously that we communicate directly with the NFLPA on these matters, we now ask that you and your staff not interfere with our efforts to communicate directly with the players or their personal counsel,” the lawmakers said.

Earlier this month, Major League Baseball became the first professional league to begin HGH testing for its players, putting the pressure on the NFL to follow suit.

The Oversight panel’s investigation has been largely bipartisan between Issa and Cumming, and it could spur action by the NFL, which was been pressing the union to test players for more than a year.

After initially supporting HGH tests in 2011’s collective bargaining agreement, the union questioned the standards of comparison in testing levels of HGH in players.