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Congress pushing for HGH testing

Associated Press / September 30, 2011

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Congress is stepping up its efforts to push the NFL and its players toward an agreement on testing for human growth hormone.

In letters obtained by the Associated Press yesterday, leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee invited commissioner Roger Goodell, the NFPLA’s DeMaurice Smith, and the chief executive of the US Anti-Doping Agency to a meeting on Capitol Hill.

The letters were signed by chairman Darrell Issa, a California Republican, and Representative Elijah E. Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland and ranking member of the committee.

Blood testing for HGH was part of the collective bargaining deal struck between the league and players - but only if the union agreed to the methods.

The players’ union has asked for more information about the process used by the World Anti-Doping Agency and it questioned the safety and reliability of the test. The NFL would be the first major professional sports league to implement HGH testing.

“We believe the league and its players remain best positioned to implement an HGH testing regime, but concerns have been raised about the status of these efforts,’’ Issa and Cummings said in the letters. “The purpose of this meeting is to understand the concerns of the players and the league and to strongly convey our universal interest in protecting the health of millions of younger athletes across the country.’’

With talks over HGH testing at a stalemate, it seemed it was only a matter of time before Congress took action. However, the invitation is voluntary and not a subpoena. No date has been set for the meeting on performance-enhancing drugs.

Goodell sent a letter to Smith before the season reiterating the league’s eagerness to begin HGH testing. At that time, the NFL also notified teams that no HGH testing will be conducted because the players’ association could not agree to the terms.

Jackson, Rams hopeful The Louis Rams are optimistic Steven Jackson will have a larger workload when they host the Redskins Sunday.

Jackson has been hobbled by a strained quadriceps muscle. He was hurt on the Rams’ first play of the season against Philadelphia. The Rams running back scored a touchdown on that 47-yard run but he pulled up as he crossed the goal line. He had one more carry in that game - for 9 yards - and didn’t play in the second game against the Giants.

Romo feeling better Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is feeling better two weeks after fracturing a rib and puncturing a lung. Romo will still wear a protective vest against Detroit Sunday and said he plans on getting a pain-killing shot before the game . . . Chargers running back Ryan Mathews missed practice because of an injured left foot . . . Arizona running back Beanie Wells, who sat out last week’s loss at Seattle with a sore left hamstring, says he turned it loose at full speed in practice and felt no ill effects.

Umenyiora looks ready Osi Umenyiora, who tied an NFL record with 10 forced fumbles last season, practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day, and it appears the two-time Pro Bowler will play for the first time this season when the Giants play in Arizona Sunday . . . Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie returned to the practice field four days after suffering a bruised lung and ribs. Center Nick Mangold was also in full uniform for the first time since suffering a high right ankle sprain two weeks ago.

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