Fri, Sep 08, 2006 - Page 22 News List

NFL in discussions to improve doping detection program


The National Football League and its union are discussing strengthening their anti-doping program to keep pace with the increase in the number of performance-enhancing substances and the efficiency of masking agents.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in his first news conference since taking over for Paul Tagliabue today, said on Wednesday he has been discussing the problem with Gene Upshaw, the head of the NFL Players Association. Among the topics discussed were increasing the number of tests and perhaps the number of substances tested.

But Goodell, who has been the NFL's chief operating officer the past six years, noted that the review is nothing new: The union and the league review the anti-doping program annually. The NFL currently makes approximately 10,000 random tests annually for performance-enhancing drugs to about 2,000 players.

"I think we've got a lot of great experts who will be able to work with this," Goodell said. "We've always been at the front of the line in drug testing and I think we will continue."

Goodell touched on a number of subjects, taking in most cases the same positions as Tagliabue -- not unexpected given that he's been on the job for less than a week and was Tagliabue's No. 2 man for so long.

He said his first priority will be visiting all 32 teams.

Meanwhile, Kansas City Chiefs tackle John Welbourn, who unexpectedly retired in June, was suspended for six weeks on Wednesday for violating the NFL's doping policy.

Welbourn, who was also suspended for the first four games last year under the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, had asked to be reinstated, said Chiefs president Carl Peterson.

The Chiefs still have Welbourn under contract for three years. And with the unexpected retirement in July of Pro Bowl left tackle Willie Roaf, they have a need at offensive tackle.

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