Is new CFL CBA tough enough?

CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:02 PM ET

Edmonton Eskimos players rep Kamau Peterson wishes the new deal had more teeth in it.

A couple of days before the CFL season is set to kick off, the CFL and CFL Players Association announced a four-year Collective Bargaining Agreement. The deal, negotiated more than a month ago, has been ratified by both sides and includes a drug-testing policy for the first time in league history.

Eskimos GM Danny Maciocia seems to like it.

ďIím very comfortable with it,Ē said Maciocia. ďItís a good thing for all parties involved. Itís been long overdue. It will allow us to focus on the season itself and not on the CBA. I think itís a win-win proposition from all parties.Ē

From Petersonís viewpoint, a dental plan was a big omission that will have to wait for another day.

ďDentalís a big one, especially now that I have kids and they have teeth,Ē said Peterson. ďIím serious, but thatís another conversation and thereís still room for improvement.Ē

Among the highlights:

A salary cap of $4.25 million in 2010, increasing to $4.4 million in 2013.

A minimum salary of $42,000 this year, increasing to $45,000 in 2013.

Phasing out of the NFL option window, in which CFL players can sign with an NFL team in the option year of their contract. Players with existing contracts entering their option year in 2011 and 2012 are able to pursue the NFL option. The new provision will affect any player who sign a new contract beyond 30 days from Tuesdayís ratification.

Introduction of a drug-testing policy to prevent and combat the use of performance enhancing drugs. For now, recreational drugs are excluded.

Tests are random and year-round and recognizes previous positives from other leagues.

This year 25% of the players will be randomly testes, increasing to 35% in 2012 and 2013.

A first-offence player will be subject to mandatory testing.

A player will only be identified on his second offence and be given a three-game suspension. A fourth offence will trigger a lifetime ban.

The CFL will fund testing of the top 80 Canadian Interuniversity Sport prospects for that yearís CFL evaluation camp and CFL Canadian draft.

Having drug testing in the CFL is an issue that has been kicked around for at least two decades. Much of the inability to reach an agreement revolved around the costs of player rehabilitation.

ďItís been something thatís been long-overdue and I think the players eel the same way about it,Ē said Maciocia. ďIíve stated it before because I was asked about the whole Waterloo situation in the CIS. Iím totally against players taking performance-enhancing drugs. I would even be against it if there were millions of dollars in place, never mind somebody coming in here making a minimum $42,000 a year.

ďItís a clear message for our league and for youngsters who have aspirations of playing in the CFL and Iím glad itís there.Ē

As far as closing the NFL option window, Maciocia said he likes the fact that the CFL team will be able to maintain the services of a player theyíve invested time and money in. The option was worked into a previous CBA when the league had its difficulties and to Maciocia, the new direction is an indication of the health of the CFL.

Peterson likes the idea the CFL has finally been able to articulate the foundation of a drug-testing policy.

ďItís a step in the right direction ó itís better than it was before,Ē said Peterson. ďIf youíre an advocate of drug-testing, youíve got your drug testing. At least, itís a start. They wonít catch me. I didnít do anything.

ďYou canít test someone and penalize them for drugs if you canít rehabilitate them. Thatís what costs money.Ē

con.griwkowsky@sunmedia.ca


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