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Miami Dolphins Players Will Benefit if New Testing Agreement Approved Today

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Reshad Jones and Dion Jordan are the two players who are hoping the NFL players union votes to approve a new drug testing agreement today. Negotiations are still ongoing, but if a new testing regime is approved, suspensions for Jones and Jordan could be reduced or ended Immediately

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Lost in the sound and the fury surrounding the Ray Rice controversy is the news that NFL is in the middle of negotiations with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) to enact a new drug testing policy. Negotiations are ongoing, so concrete details are scarce at this point. However, one of the likely effects of a new drug testing policy is that players who have been suspended for amphetamine use will be re-classified as having violated the league's "Drugs of Abuse" (recreational drugs) policy rather than the league's "Performance Enhancing Drug" (PED) policy.

The distinction goes beyond mere semantics because the punishment rules are different depending on which one of those policies a player violates. If he violates the PED policy, he's automatically suspended for 4 games if he loses his appeal, even if it's his first violation. If he violates the Substances of Abuse policy, he's mandated to seek counseling and will undergo more frequent testing but does not face automatic suspension after 1 violation. He only becomes eligible for suspension if he's a repeat violator, like Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon. This is relevant to the Dolphins because it's been widely reported that two suspended Dolphins players will likely benefit from a new testing regime that re-classifies certain drugs from "PEDs" to "substances of abuse."

Reshad Jones

Upon being suspended for 4 games, Reshad Jones put out a statement publicly apologizing for his lapse in judgment and claiming he did not intentionally take a PED, and that what caused the positive test was a "supplement" that he didn't realize could trigger positive PED test results. According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, Jones has privately complained that the drug that caused his positive PED test wasn't anything that would "help [him] play better." Therefore, what caused the positive test was either a supplement unrelated to football performance or a recreational drug like "Molly," which is similar to Ecstasy and can cause a positive result when a person is tested for amphetamines. Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker tested positive for PEDs, but Pro Football Talk reported the test result wasn't due to actual PED use. Instead, the alleged cause was Welker taking "Molly" at the Kentucky Derby, an event during which Welker was witnessed "exuberantly" handing out $100 bills after winning big bets.

Amphetamines are currently classified as a PED because they act as a stimulant that increases concentration and energy. Because multiple recreational drugs can lead to positive amphetamine results, the NFLPA wants to re-classify amphetamine as a drug of abuse rather than a PED. If the NFLPA gets its wish, Jones has a good chance of seeing his suspension end immediately IF it turns out that the specific test he failed was for amphetamines. The Salguero report only mentioned that Jones was denying actual PED use but didn't confirm whether he tested positive for amphetamines. However, NFL Network's Albert Breer, in a joint report with Ian Rapoport, reported that Jones tested positive for amphetamines.

Dion Jordan

Like Jones' statement, Dion Jordan's public statement in response to his suspension included an apology. In contrast to Jones, Jordan hasn't explicitly denied the use of PEDs, either publicly or off the record. However, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Jordan's positive test result was for amphetamines, not for anabolic steroids. Therefore, it's very likely that if the new drug testing proposal reclassifies amphetamines as substances of abuse instead of PEDs, Jordan's suspension will end sooner than expected.

Background On Talks So Far

The NFLPA representatives had a conference call just a couple of days ago in response to an initial proposal made by the NFL, but the player representatives refused to hold a vote because they disliked key provisions in that proposal. In a surprising change from its usual hardline stance in negotiations, the NFL has reportedly made several key concessions after the rejection of the initial proposal. The concessions involve the rules governing future human growth hormone (HGH) testing as well as neutral arbitration (i.e., not having Roger Goodell oversee appeals made against the rulings of Roger Goodell). The NFL commissioner has historically been referred to "judge, jury, and executioner" due to his incredible power when it comes to punishing players, but in reality, he's "judge, jury, executioner, and appeals court judge" since he plays a role in appeals that challenge his own initial decision! The players are hoping to limit that power.

The NFL's motivation for being more flexible in negotiations is likely due to some hope that news of a more comprehensive drug testing regime will distract fans from the Ray Rice controversy. With the NFL more eager than usual for a public relations "win," the NFLPA reps are reportedly very optimistic about the new proposal the NFL submitted to the players today.

Timeline of Events Going Forward

According to NFLPA President Eric Winston's official Twitter account, all 32 NFL player representatives will receive copies of the NFL's latest proposal this afternoon, and the NFLPA could choose to have a vote soon after that. Again, this is all hypotheticals because negotiations are ongoing. However, IF media reports about the new proposal including a switch in the classification of amphetamines from PEDs to substances of abuse are accurate, then two Dolphins players currently suspended will likely benefit. Both Jones and Jordan should see their suspensions end very quickly based on the information from Breer's and Rapoport's report, with the timing dependent on how long it takes for the NFL to "review" their cases and issue new punishments.