Bobby Beathard, Washington Redskins general manager, says the Redskins are considering urinalysis testing of players for illegal drug use, but the idea is only under discussion and no firm decisions have been made.
"I don't know," said Beathard when asked what the club's policy on the controversial urinalysis issue will be. "We want to do the correct thing and be able to help anyone who needs help."
In the next few days, Beathard said, he will talk with doctors and other team officials about urinalysis. "One of our basic concerns is that if a person is in need of help, he first has to admit it to himself and his family," Beathard said.
The National Football League Players Association filed formal unfair labor practice charges yesterday against two teams, the Miami Dolphins and the Denver Broncos, that have tested players for illegal use of drugs.
The charges, which also named the NFL Management Council, were filed with the National Labor Relations Board in New York. Jack Donlan, executive director of the Management Council, said last week he has distributed a memorandum to all 28 NFL clubs informing them they have the right to require players to undergo urinalysis tests for drug use.
The NFLPA disagrees emphatically. Even though the contract between the league and the players association has expired, many of its provisions remain in force, and requiring players to submit to urinalysis amounts to a unilateral change in working conditions in violation of federal labor laws, the NFLPA contends.
Donlan contends that language in the old contract that gives clubs the right to administer more than one physical examination a year also permits them to test for drug use as part of that exam.
The drug controversy became an issue in contract negotiations between the NFL and the NFLPA last week when the players association proposed that the league fund a player counseling program for a variety of problems, including illegal drug use. The management council, the NFL's labor negotiating arm, rejected the proposal, in part because it specifically barred urinalysis testing of players.
The NFL has been mired in the drug controversy since mid-June when Sports Illustrated published a first-person account of his troubles with cocaine by Don Reese, a former defensive lineman.
Beathard says he knows of no Redskins with drug problems but that the issue is nevertheless of concern to him.