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."
Human growth hormone, HGH, which is illegal to use non-medically, is used by players in part to help them recover more quickly during long, brutal sporting seasons, but they're also widely believed to improve physical prowess, including by making players faster and giving them better vision.
Such perks boosted the use of HGH in the 1990s, giving rise to what sportswriters now often refer to as "the steroid era," where records and accomplishments by players believed to have juiced now bear an asterisk.
In Wednesday's sportswriters' Hall of Fame vote, Messrs. Bonds and Clemens both earned around 37 percent of votes, far short of the 75 percent required to boost a retired player into the Hall. The two players will, however, remain on the list for future consideration.