Congress to help NFL with doping standoff


Leaders with the House Oversight Committee said they promised Wednesday to find government medical experts whose judgment both sides could accept.

"We're going to come in, figure out a way to get an independent voice in this process, and get it resolved," ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) told The Hill.

The league and the players' union agreed to blood testing for HGH last year in their 10-year labor deal, but tests are stalled as the two sides dispute the details.

Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said that a neutral expert could potentially come from the National Institutes of Health.

"The league and the union have already reached an agreement," he said. "Now they both need to implement the agreement. Our challenge is to get all the information from both sides and then seek independent counsel to try to help arbitrate."

Issa added that Congress has ways to pressure the NFL on doping, such as threatening the league's longstanding anti-trust exemption, but insisted "that's not the goal."

"The goal is to protect the players, whether it's against head injuries, or the use of steroids or human-growth hormones," Issa said.

Both Oversight leaders are committed to helping the league and the union reach a deal, they said.

"We do have bipartisan agreement on this issue," Cummings said. "We don't agree on a lot, but we agree on this."

Traumatic brain injuries also received attention Wednesday at a briefing with Goodell, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd Austin and more than 30 House members.

Speaking to the press, lawmakers praised a budding partnership between the NFL and the military on treating and preventing traumatic brain injuries, which affect an estimated 2 million Americans each year.

"We made a great deal of progress today in bringing the parties together," said Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.). "This [issue] should be a top priority of this Congress."