By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said yesterday that he would meet with Washington Redskins tackle Jon Jansen to discuss Jansen's comments last week about the use of human growth hormone by NFL players.
Goodell attended the Redskins' season-opener last night against the Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field. He and another league official said as they stood near the Redskins' locker room before the game that the meeting with Jansen would take place in the near future, but declined to be more specific.
"We will talk to him," said Goodell, who officially took over as commissioner 11 days ago, upon the retirement of Paul Tagliabue. "Anytime somebody makes comments like that, it's our obligation and responsibility to review it and understand it."
Jansen said on an HBO show that aired last week that he believed 15 to 20 percent of the players in the league were using performance-enhancing drugs, emboldened by the fact that the NFL does not test its players for growth hormone. He said the following day at Redskins Park that he wasn't certain about the percentage and had meant to say that a small portion of players used performance-enhancers. He said he stood by his contention that some players were taking advantage of the lack of a test for growth hormone to try to gain a competitive edge.
Goodell said yesterday he wasn't giving any credence to Jansen's original estimate about the prevalence of the use of growth hormone in the league but wanted to be as vigilant as possible on the issue of performance-enhancing drugs.
"I don't have any reason to believe there is validity to that statement," Goodell said. "But anytime anybody makes a comment like that on such a significant issue, you have to pursue it. We will pursue it. We'll see if there is any validity to it."
NFL officials say they don't test for growth hormone because there is no reliable urine test for it. Gene Upshaw, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, has said he would not agree to allow players to be blood-tested for growth hormone, which is on the league's list of banned substances.
Goodell said during his first news conference as commissioner last week that he had begun discussions with Upshaw about the possibility of making changes to the league's steroid-testing program as part of the annual review done by the NFL and the players' union about their drug policies. Those proposed changes apparently could include increasing the frequency of tests and adding substances to the banned list.
Goodell said yesterday: "We've already been talking. We feel we have a very good program and we want to continue to have the best program in sports, and we will explore everything necessary to do that."
But Upshaw said last week, before Jansen's comments, that no one in the league office had expressed a desire to toughen the drug policy during their conversations. Upshaw said he saw no immediate need to change the steroid-testing policy, expressing confidence that the league catches players who use performance-enhancing drugs if the science of the testing allows it.
Under the current policy, all NFL players are tested at least once per year for steroids. They're subject to random testing during the season and as many as six tests per player during the offseason. A positive test results in a four-game suspension without pay. A second offense results in an eight-game suspension and a third offense brings a one-year suspension.