CFL’s credibility in question

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:11 PM ET

Canadian Football League commissioner Mark Cohon says he wants drug testing. The players say they want drug testing.

Yet, QMI Agency has learned the two sides are likely to push a drug policy to the backburner for at least another year.

Talks towards a new collective bargaining agreement — the old one expires just before training camps open next month — were supposed to produce the first drug program in CFL history.

But sources say the cost, pegged at close to $500,000 per year, is causing players and owners to take a second look.

And Dick Pound, Canada’s outspoken anti-doping czar, was quick to see the hole in that plan.

“That’s outrageous,” Pound told QMI Agency. “You can’t have any credibility with anybody if you say, ‘We don’t have a drug policy because there’s no use,’ or, ‘Oh, it’s going to cost us a little money to implement’ — nonsense.”

This isn’t the first time Pound has flagged the CFL, whose lack of a policy separates it from the major sports leagues.

And he won’t stop piling on until three-down football takes meaningful steps to clean up its image as a refuge for drug cheats.

Only recently has the league stopped accepting players banned from the NFL for drug use. The long-overdue next step, Pound says, is a policy with real teeth, even if it’s brought in gradually.

“You’d have somebody independently conducting the tests for you, and you would have meaningful sanctions,” are Pound’s top two suggestions. “And maybe you’d have to ramp them up, say the first year of the policy it’s six months (for a positive test), for the second it’s a year and anytime after two years, when all this stuff should be out of your system and there’s no excuse, it’s two years.”

Of course, chances are the CFL, if and when it does institute a policy, will more closely follow the NFL’s lead, hitting players with meagre four-game suspensions for a first failed test.

“Well, it’s a step,” Pound said. “If you’re paying attention and you’re the commissioner, you’re going to say to yourself, if you’re honest, ‘People in the States think that’s a joke, too.’ But the NFL gets away with it.”

paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca


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