Incoming CIS players, first time offences, testing frequency all on the agenda

TORONTO -- The Canadian Football League and the Canadian Football League Players’ Association have agreed to hold formal talks with the goal of strengthening the league’s drug policy.

“As I have said since the day I was appointed Commissioner, we have an unwavering commitment to the health and safety of our players, and the integrity of our game,” said Jeffrey L. Orridge, Commissioner of the Canadian Football League.

“The CFL/CFLPA Drug Policy has been a part of ongoing discussions with the league for several months now,” said Scott Flory, President of the Canadian Football League Players’ Association. “In representing the best interests of the Players in the CFL, we want to work together with the league in examining, updating and strengthening the Policy in some key areas.”

The league and the union will focus on three key issues:

  • What penalties CIS and NCAA players should face as they attempt to enter the CFL after testing positive at the university level or at the CFL Combine;
  • What should happen when a CFL player tests positive; and
  • The frequency of random testing in the CFL;

“When this policy was introduced, it represented the best efforts of the CFL and the CFLPA. We were one of the first professional sport policies to allow blood sample collection to test for HGH. That being said, we are actively looking at updating the policy in a way that works for us, a policy that has been respected by the Players and worked very effectively since it was introduced,” said Flory, who has led the players’ association for just 14 months.

“I often say our best can be better and that is true of a policy that was heavily praised when it was introduced but now needs improvement,” said Orridge, who assumed the Commissioner’s post just seven weeks ago.

“But make no mistake, the CFL will act in the best interests of our players, our game and our league. We will not have exact terms dictated to us by outside agencies nor will we be held to a standard that no North American professional team sport is meeting.”

The CFL recently severed its partnership with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports, which had conducted drug testing under the policy for four years, after the director of one of its affiliated testing labs breached the confidentiality provisions of the agreement between the organizations.

“This league has consistently communicated to CCES that we are open to positive change and we welcome its advice and even criticism, but there has to be trust between partners, change cannot happen overnight, and a proper process must be followed,” Orridge said.

“I have endeavoured to make the same point to the Director-General of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and look forward to speaking with him.”

WADA, which advocates a four-year ban for athletes who test positive a first time, issued a statement on the CFL drug testing policy yesterday.

The CFL is currently in discussions with two highly reputable drug-testing labs that have extensive experience with professional sports leagues. It remains confident that its current drug-testing regimen can continue uninterrupted.

The Canadian Football League 2015 regular season kicks off later this week.

Olivier Poulin

Manager, Communications, Canadian Football League

Paulo Senra

Director, Communications, Canadian Football League

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