Finally

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Two steps forward, one back for CFL
By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

The stalemate between the CFL and its players association appears to have broken.

Sources close to the talks say the two sides are actually negotiating, trading proposals, reducing the likelihood of a work stoppage this season.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is it appears the CFL will go yet another season without a drug policy.

The issue of drug testing along with punitive measures for failed tests has been on the table in the current collective bargaining talks.

But sources say the program is a luxury the CFL might not be able to afford, at least in the first year of any new CBA.

We’re told the league has pegged the cost of a program at around $500,000. And while the CFL was willing to foot the bill this season, it wanted to do so partially on the backs of its players.

One source says the league wanted financial concessions from the union, claiming corporate sponsorship revenues are down due to the recession.

The players looked at that and suggested maybe the league should delay the drug policy by a year.

Players have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a program, but it’s clear they don’t want it implemented if it’s going to mean less pay for the rank and file.

While star quarterbacks can earn in excess of $300,000, the average CFLer probably doesn’t make much more than $70,000. So any hit on their pay cheques is felt, however minor.

Then again, you could argue the players should pick up part of the cost. It’s in their own best interests, after all.

Assuming the policy will have teeth — and there’s no guarantee of that, based on what other pro leagues have reluctantly come up with — a player could feel secure he’s not competing against a ’roided-up opponent, or even a teammate using performance enhancers to win his job.

If even a few are using — and we’ve seen them come and go, imports and non-imports alike — there’s pressure to keep up. Problem is, the health side-effects can be devastating.

Then there’s the issue of so-called recreational drugs, and here’s where I can see players getting their backs up.

Saskatchewan defensive back Tad Kornegay recently raised some eyebrows when he told the Wall Street Journal that CFLers smoke marijuana to relieve stress and pain.

The article said Kornegay suggested half the Riders smoke up, and while he’s since denied saying that, it’s generally believed marijuana use is common across the league.

There’s no word on whether any new policy would include penalties, or even testing for, recreational drugs. If it does, be prepared for a rash of suspensions.

This isn’t the only CBA issue there’s been some movement on.

Word is the previously icy relationship between the two sides has begun to thaw, with both now believing a new deal will get done.

Whether it’ll be in time for training camp next month is another story.

We’re told the league has finally budged on some items it previously was drawing a hard line on, its desire to take away the players’ guarantee of earning 56% of league revenue presumably one of them.

And that ridiculous notion of reducing the number of starting Canadians, floated during Grey Cup week last fall?

Sources say that’s off the table, which means it was just a feeble attempt by the league to pretend to negotiate, that it wasn’t serious about the proposal in the first place.

Seems to me if the two sides weren’t busy playing games like this, and fighting for a bigger piece of a relatively small pie, they’d actually be able to clean up the league’s image as a haven for drug cheats.

Sadly, that may have to wait.

well good. if weed is the worst thing they are doing, who cares.

I think when it comes to drug testing they mean the performance enhancing variety. :wink:

Well, there was some chirping about recreational drugs too...but if the plan gets iced for a year or 2 to get a CBA done.....I say smoke 'em if you got 'em.

Just out of curiosity, maybe someone who knows more about this subject could explain... is a drug policy that important in the CFL? I know there's a lot of drug use in other leagues (or was), but is it a problem in the CFL?

Drug policy. Meh. There are already laws to deal with illegal drugs.

That drug policy stuff is just a farce anyway.

If you are under age 30, you probably don't remember the saga of Lyle Alzado. Wiki it.

Since him I suspect other cases of the side effects of 'roids have been hush-hush on the NFL side of matters with baseball and and some Olympic athletes stealing most of those headlines.

In the NFL now the untested substance in high use is the human growth hormone, and that's their next 800-pound gorilla in the room as is the prolonged use of illegal drugs all-around in the CFL.

Ultimately a drug policy is about player safety beyond protecting the brand image of the league and integrity of the sport, but the latter seem to come into play whenever there is a big bust or the next Lyle Alzado. Too often something only gets done once someone stands to lose a bunch of money, as in via sponsorships and advertising, or someone just plain dies.

How long Alzado he has been forgotten by too many as well as not known by those too young, but there will be another one I say in the next five years. :expressionless:

Correlation is not causation. Who’s to say that Alzado wouldn’t have died of a brain tumour anyway. And just because he did, doesn’t mean anybody else will. Players have to be responsible for themselves too. And if they can’t be, then there are applicable laws and to assist them.

Drug problem is there in both the CIS and CFL. I have known a few players that have taken drugs in the past and heard first hand. Also the ages of some of the CFL draftees aren't accurate either.

If it's a banned substance, then the players shouldn't be using it, period.

Baseball is best the example, McGuire, Bonds, Sosa, Clemmons, all cheated their way into the record books.

....I'm curious about the 'cost' of such a programme.....half a million big ones?????Who' s pocketing that dough....Random testing shouldn't be that expensive :roll:

Pee wee was on bob Mcgowan show and said he doesn't feel Riods are a problem in the CFL, cuz players can't afford it, and people smoke weed, big deal. Not like they are doing it at work, just at home.

Bob said the CFL can't afford a legitimate drug test, it would only be for show so would be pointless, and then questioned the legitimacy of other leagues testing when they do it themselves and not a third party...I have to agree

As with anything the biggest cost would likely be in wages.

Your statement contradicts the medical opinion as well Alzado's own admission Rpaege.

A substantial body of medical evidence exists to show that there IS high correlation even though as you state correctly it might not be necessarily causation. Sorry I don't see you with much to back your implication of the diminished severe health risks of the prolonged use of steroids or for Alzado's case specifically.

Perhaps you know someone who has not had issues and fine, but that is overwhelmingly NOT the norm and the numbers are skewed by the lack of reporting due to medical privacy laws.

....just don't drop your roaches on the new field turf, beyond that get ready to get playing...