CFL announces new CBA

DAVE FULLER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:38 PM ET

It's okay to be a Canadian playing in the Canadian Football League again.

It's not okay to take performance enhancing drugs or masking agents.

It's okay to root for Ottawa again, keeping in mind that the franchise won't play a down before 2013.

It's not a good idea to think you're going to get rich on football in Canada, not when the league's new salary cap is only a bit more than surplus defenceman Jeff Finger earns as a Maple Leaf.

The CFL and it's players' union Tuesday ratified a new, four-year collective bargaining agreement, which includes in- and out-of-season drug testing; incremental increases in the salary cap to a maximum $4,400,000 in 2013; a $1,000 bump in minimum salaries for each year of the contract; and the closing of a window which allowed players entering their option year to sign with NFL teams.

The CFL also withdrew a proposal which could have resulted in teams reducing the number of Canadian starters from seven to four.

The CFL's new, three-strikes-and-you're out drug policy eclipses anti-drug programs in many other pro leagues.

"We've caught up and now we've passed them," said CFL commissioner Mark Cohon after he and CFLPA president Stu Laird officially officially signed the new CBA during a media conference in Toronto. Random drug testing, which kicks in next season, will be conducted by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in sports. First-time offenders will have to enter a drug education program, repeat offenders will be suspended for three games. Any one testing positive for a third time, will be suspended for life.

With a new CFL season kicking off Thursday, both sides were relieved a new CBA is now in place. Cohon was also buoyed by news Monday night that Ottawa city council have voted in favour of providing funds to help refurbish Landsdowne Park and Frank Clair Stadium, allowing for the return of Ottawa to the CFL fold in 2013.


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