NEW YORK (June 27, 2006) -- The NFL toughened up its drug policy, adding amphetamines to the list of banned performance-enhancers starting in 2007.
Amphetamines were previously listed as a "substance-abuse drug," but are now in the same category as steroids and other enhancers, which carry much stronger penalties. Next year will serve as a transition year, where a first positive test would bring a warning and put a player into the drug program.
But in 2007, amphetamines will be tested for on a regular basis. A first positive test will result in a four-game suspension, the same penalty now levied for positive steroids tests. Major League Baseball also started testing for amphetamines this season as part of its steroids policy.
Harold Henderson, NFL executive vice president of labor relations, said the league and union worked together to toughen the penalties for amphetamines after the U.S. Congressional hearings last year on drugs in sports.
"We never looked at it as a competitive issue for our players, like steroids and other things, but realized the possibility that some players would use it for a gameday edge," Henderson said in a phone interview from San Diego, where he was attending the annual rookie symposium. "The union quickly agreed with us."
In addition to the amphetamines change, the penalty for a second positive test for performance-enhancing drugs was increased from six to eight games. A third positive test still carries a one-year suspension.
The Associated Press News Service
Copyright 2006, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved