CFL takes on HGH

By Jacob McGregor

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport recognized the Canadian Football League as the first major North American sport league to implement testing for human growth hormone as part of its anti-doping program. CFL commissioner Mark Cohon said in a statement released on Nov. 17 that a new partnership with the CCES is essential to keep football HGH free.

“Blood testing is an important part of a robust drug testing program,” he said. “We feel that our partnership with the CCES has enabled us to really demonstrate our commitment to a safe and healthy environment for our players.”

For several years prior to their agreement with the CFL, the CCES had been working with Canadian Interuniversity Sport to battle the use of HGH and other performance-enhancing substances at the collegiate level. The Canadian Anti-Doping Program adopted by the CIS has been a tremendous success, especially regarding HGH. There has been only one known positive test group in Canada, which came from the University of Waterloo Football program in 2010. The positive tests resulted in the suspension of the program for an entire season.

According to Ben Matchett, assistant athletic director for the University of Calgary, another result of the positive test was “increased testing at CIS institutions, especially in football, with the CFL contributing part of the cost of that enhanced testing program.”

“In February 2011, the entire Dinos football team was tested by an unannounced, out-of-season doping control mission here on campus,” added Matchett. “There was not a single positive finding among any of the 62 players who were tested.”

Cohon also shared his pride at how well the players have responded to the testing program.

“The emphasis we placed on education over the past two years has definitely led to greater understanding and acceptance throughout the league,” Cohon said.

Paul Melia, president and CEO of the CCES, praised the CFL for its efforts and looked to the future.

“From its work with the CIS to its drug testing program, the CFL has taken great strides to ensure that the sport is clean and fair. We hope that other professional sport leagues will follow their example,” Melia said in a press release on Nov. 17.

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