Bombers laud CFL for drug policy

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:58 AM ET

The season opener was just three days away, but most of the chatter at Winnipeg Blue Bomber practice Tuesday was about the CFL’s drug policy.

Part of the league’s new collective bargaining agreement with its players, the policy, which won’t take effect until next year, will see players tested randomly for performance enhancing drugs.

“Everybody’s an advocate of a level playing field,” Bomber defensive lineman Doug Brown said. “It’s great for the image of the league. To be the last existing professional sporting environment where we didn’t have a drug policy, we need to catch up. It looks good on the CFL now.

“You don’t have to worry about whether the guy playing next to you is taking something he shouldn’t be.”

Brown, also one of Winnipeg’s player reps in the union, says he’s seen plenty of evidence of drug use over the years.

“You’re aware of it,” Brown said. “I don’t think it’s a large percentage. It’s a small number of people. The detriments have reared their ugly head many a time. It can be quite devastating in terms of injuries and things.”

Centre Obby Khan likes the message the change sends to kids.

“For young kids growing up, it goes to show by taking drugs or doping, you’re not going to get anywhere with it, now,” Khan said.

SHORT END OF THE STICK?: Players made several concessions in the new CBA, key among them giving up the guarantee that salaries would make up 56% of league revenue.

“It wasn’t just reduced, it was eliminated altogether,” Brown said.

Instead, the two sides simply agreed the salary cap would increase by just $50,000 each of the four years of the agreement.

This season it goes up from $4.2 million to $4.25 million.

Teams will have to spend a minimum of $3.9 million each of the next two years, up $800,000 from last year, Brown said.

Minimum individual salaries will creep up by $1,000 a year, with this year’s lowest possible salary pegged at $42,000.

“The increments are a little miniscule,” Khan said. “I’m not overly concerned with it. I’m just happy we’re playing football and there’s no lockout.”

WINDOW CLOSING: The new agreement also sees the closing of the option-year window for players to bolt to the NFL while still under contract.

It’s believed the provision helped lure players from the U.S., as they could come to Canada for just one season (standard CFL contracts are for one year plus a team option for a second).

Bomber defender Jonathan Hefney is one of many who took advantage of it.

“Time will tell on that,” Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice said. “Some people will say guys won’t come up here if they’re locked in. But there’s not a lot of leagues playing football right now.

“It is difficult sometimes to have a guy for a year. You educate a player and then you lose him. It’s hard as a coach to develop consistency when that happens.”

HASH MARKS: The Bombers released receiver David Ball, and asked him to take a spot on the practice roster. Receiver Chris Davis took his place on the roster ... OL Carlton Medder has gone from the disabled list to the P.R. ... Ticket sales for Friday’s game against Hamilton were at 22,500 by midday, Tuesday.

paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos