An anonymous Seattle Seahawks player told ESPN on Thursday that when it comes to drug testing, the National Football League treats its players like “criminals.”
"We are being treated like criminals, tested like people on parole," the player said.
The comment came after the Seahawks safety Earl Thomas was asked to partake in a human growth hormone (HGH) test on Thursday, one day after he said his injured shoulder was feeling significantly better.
In a tweet, Thomas implied that he did not believe the timing of the test was entirely random, per league rules:
Yesterday I said my shoulder was a 10 ...
Wake up the next morning and I have a blood test for HGH .. League office distraction
— Earl Thomas (@Earl_Thomas) January 29, 2015
This is the first year that the league has tested players for HGH. Critics of the new testing system actually believe the opposite of what Thomas implied in his tweet: They say the testing is not targeted enough.
According to the league, the system is set up so that a computer randomly selects the players who will be tested at any point in the year. But critics say this is an ineffective way to catch cheaters, and that the tests should actually focus on suspected users.
In total, the league performs 950 tests over the course of the pre-season, season and post-season, and 385 during the offseason.
Multiple Seattle Seahawks have been on the offensive against the league’s policies since the team’s win in the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers.
Star running back Marshawn Lynch has begrudgingly attended his required Super Bowl media events after the league threatened to fine him $500,000, but has mostly used them to make a point of proving he was only there to meet the NFL's requirements.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has come to Lynch’s defense, noting that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t required to speak to the media as much as Lynch. Sherman also expressed frustration that the league threatened to pull Lynch from the NFC Championship Game if he wore gold shoes, but likely wouldn’t suspend anyone on the New England Patriots over “deflategate" in time for the Super Bowl.