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NFL commissioner confident of HGH testing by off-season

By Larry Fine

INDIANAPOLIS - National Football League (NFL) commissioner Roger Goodell is optimistic an agreement will be reached with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) to begin testing players for use of human growth hormone this off-season, he said on Friday.

The NFL announced following the labor agreement with the NFLPA that players would be tested for the performance enhancing drug this season, but the union has resisted, questioning the fairness and accuracy of the test.

Goodell said he thought there would be HGH testing during the off-season and regular season.

"We certainly hope so," he told reporters at his annual State of the League news conference during Super Bowl week. "We're prepared to do it, we agreed to do it last August. We have been working to try to address the issues.

"We believe the science is clear. We do not hear any dispute from scientists around the world. The fact (is) that this test is valid and that we have the basis to enable an HGH test that is fair to the players."

The commissioner said talks with the players union have continued in hopes of instituting a workable plan.

"We expect to be able to do that," Goodell said. "We had discussions as recently as two weeks ago that we made some progress on and I'm hopeful that we will be able to get this implemented."

The NFLPA's resistance, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency, is centered around concerns that football players could possess different threshold levels of HGH than other athletes.

The test, already recognized as reliable by some of the world's biggest sporting entities, including the International Olympic Committee, does not detect the amount of HGH in an athlete's system but rather the ratio of different types of human growth hormone isoforms.

The size and shape of the athlete is irrelevant because it is a change in the ratio that indicates the presence of a synthetic hormone.

(Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by Gene Cherry)

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