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Eric Wood on HGH testing: Bring it on

By Tim Graham

WoodCount Buffalo Bills center Eric Wood among the players who want the NFL to test for human growth hormone.

While Wood didn't specify HGH, he mentioned in a Twitter conversation with some of his followers that he had a league-mandated drug test and openly wondered why they don't go all the way with it. Wood lobbied for blood testing, which is the only way HGH can be detected.

The NFL Players Association has been resistant to the NFL's proposed methods for HGH blood testing. HGH testing is permitted under the collective bargaining agreement that was signed before last season, but the sides have been unable to agree on how to go about it.

EWood70 (a verified account): "Just took my at home drug test for the league and they could have easily blood tested. If you're going to test cover everything."

In response to a follower's question, Wood replied the holdup was "prob a combo of both [the NFL and NFLPA] but I would like to see it get done." When asked if players are open to blood testing, Wood replied "They should be."

The NFL and the union agreed in April to a population study in hopes of paving the way for HGH testing this season, but the study has commenced in fits and starts.

Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins, one of the preeminent international sports journalists, explained in December why the population study was important:

One of the primary things the NFLPA is asking for and hasn't gotten is the population study [the World Anti Doping Agency] used to develop the test. WADA claims to detect HGH by measuring isoform ratios in human blood: If you show a ratio beyond what WADA scientists consider your natural limit, you are considered guilty of HGH use. But natural limits can vary significantly among people. If you're an NFL player, you don’t necessarily want to be compared with a Romanian gymnast.

The NFLPA quotes Martin Bidlingmaier, co-founder of the HGH test, who has said that gender, age, body composition, injury history, type of sport, diet and the effects of chronic exercise could all be relevant, and the ratios should be based on "a suitable reference population." Is WADA’s reference population suitable for 300-pound NFL players? Is it suitable for 6-foot-6 NBA players? Whom did WADA conduct its trials on? Downhill skiers? How big were they, where do they live, what were their diets, their living conditions, their habits? WADA has only provided the NFLPA with some summary info, and not the study itself.

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told two weeks ago he was hopeful blood testing would be in place for the upcoming season.

NFL general counsel Jeff Pash said "It would be a nice surprise. I'm certainly not optimistic."

(Photo: James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |