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MLB, players take lead on drug testing. Will NFL players follow?

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The burden, writes Mr. Heyman, is "on the player's union, which stonewalled on PED testing for too many years when its members had the chance to get on the right side of the issue for the greater good of its own constituents."

Since 2011, MLB players have been tested in the off-season, but extending that regimen into the regular season is part of Commissioner Bud Selig's stated intention for baseball to have the strongest drug-testing program in professional sports.

But as can be seen with the situation in the NFL, which was the focus of congressional hearings in December over alleged stonewalling by the players' union on a testing agreement signed in 2011, the issue remains irksome.

NFL players say they want another study of the impact of the tests before they agree to a regimen. Given the MLB players’ decision to move ahead with in-season testing, that stance by football players has begun to risk the integrity of the game and threaten the league's reputation, some officials say.

"As a league, we need to look at it in terms of competitive integrity, in terms of being consistent with the NFL having a leadership position in the world of performance-enhancing drugs," NFL senior vice president Adolfo Birch told Congress. "And frankly, I think this delay in implementing this program has put our leadership position at risk."

Players' union officials have denied that NFL players are stonewalling. But even some baseball players say the hesitation to conduct testing during the season is legitimate, if only because it can take a toll on an athlete's body.

"It's just not right," Seattle Mariners' catcher Miguel Olivo told USA Today about one off-season test. "They took so much blood from me, I almost passed out. Even when I went to eat at night, I threw up."

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