The NFL and NFLPA agreed on a new drug policy, and it will have an immediate impact on some players. Wide receiver Wes Welker and cornerback Orlando Scandrick, who were both suspended for use of MDMA, are likely to be reinstated in time for Sunday's games.
One player who will not see his punishment change is San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith. He was suspended for nine games, with four of his games coming due to a substance abuse policy violation. The new policy reflects a 2-game suspension for a first time DUI offense, but I believe Aldon got four games because it was his second DUI. He was arrested in Florida for suspicion of DUI in 2012, but it was reduced to reckless driving under a first-time offender program.
The NFLPA issued a press release listing some of the notable changes to the policy.
- NEUTRAL ARBITRATION: An Independent Arbitrator will hear appeals for positive test violations of both Substances of Abuse and Performance Enhancing Drug Policies. The NFL and NFLPA will jointly select, approve and pay for retention of 3-5 arbitrators.
- AMENDING MARIJUANA POLICIES: The threshold for a positive test for marijuana will increase to 35 ng/ml from the previous limit of 15 ng/ml. There will be additional steps for players who test positive for the substance before suspension.
- RETROACTIVITY: Discipline of players for certain violations in the 2014 League Year will have their discipline adjusted by certain aspects of the new policies.
- DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE: Players successfully rejected the league's proposal to issue discipline upon arrest, prior to adjudication. A two-game suspension will be issued upon conviction or plea agreement for violations of law involving alcohol and driving.
- AMPHETAMINES: During the off-season, a first time positive test for amphetamines without a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) will now be evaluated under the Substances of Abuse Policy. During the season, a positive test without a TUE will continue to be a violation of the Performance Enhancing Drug Policy.
- HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE TESTING: Testing for hGH will occur in the 2014 season. Players have the right to challenge any aspect of the science of the hGH isoforms test. The collection of blood specimens is prohibited on game days.
- DISCIPLINE FOR BREACHES OF CONFIDENTIALITY: The NFL and NFLPA will have the right to retain independent investigators to review cases where player confidentiality as related to the drug policies has been breached. Employees of the NFL/NFLPA/Clubs, players, certified contract advisors (agents) and policy administrators found to be in violation will face fines up to $500,000 and/or termination or other discipline.