That was apparent again yesterday when news surfaced that the NFL would not be partnering with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to investigate the doping allegations raised in a recent report by Al-Jazeera. In case you’ve forgotten, the report identified Peyton Manning as having received HGH shipments to his house.
Major League Baseball, who also had marquee players named in the report, announced that it would be joining forces with USADA to investigate the report. And that’s why this is a missed opportunity for the NFL.
The NFL has long been criticized for turning a blind eye to drug and doping problems with its players. MLB learned this lesson the hard way during the 1990s. They paid the price, changed their tune, and now have one of the most strict drug policies of any professional sports league.
The league office has said that it is performing its own independent investigation, but that it will be coordinating with the USADA investigation. But why not use the resources that USADA offers? Although a non-governmental organization, it provides a treasure chest of knowledge concerning these issues and could provide valuable input to the league as to various policies to curb doping amongst its players.
Instead, the league has refused the help of the foremost authority within the U.S. on these issues. The chief informant for the Al-Jazeera report, Charlie Sly, has said that he fabricated the information contained in the report. Nonetheless, the allegations lobbed at Manning and Packers LB Clay Matthews bear at least a marginal investigation and further analysis of potential doping scandals within the confines of the league.
Turning a blind eye a week before the Super Bowl won’t solve anything. This will serve as yet another blemish on the league’s perpetual black eye in its handling of off-the-field issues.
Sooner or later, it will catch up with them. And, if they don’t believe it, they should give MLB a call.