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Congress plans HGH hearing next week

Darrell Issa, Elijah Cummings

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., right, joined by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., left, the ranking member, to hear from Inspector General Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s internal watchdog, the day after he issued a report faulting the department for disregard of public safety in “Operation Fast and Furious,” the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ program that allowed hundreds of guns to reach Mexican drug gangs, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. Issa and House Republicans have pursued Attorney General Eric Holder in their oversight investigation but the IG’s findings absolve Holder of wrongdoing. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)


It’s a move that has been in the works for months. Now that every member of the House of Representatives has concluded his or her bi-annual campaigns for reelection, it can proceed.

On Monday night, Adam Schefter reported that the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will convene a hearing next week to examine the science behind HGH testing and the health concerns surrounding the use of HGH.

Witnesses include Travis Tygart, the executive director of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Tygart undoubtedly will explain (as he has in the past) that the NFL Players Association’s concerns regarding the current HGH testing protocol aren’t reasonable. At one point, Tygart described the union’s position as “an absolute joke.” (We wish he wouldn’t be so vague in his views.)

In August 2011, the NFL and NFLPA agreed that HGH testing would commence that season. To date, the parties have not agreed to a testing protocol. Curiously, the oft-litigious NFL has not utilized any of the various legal avenues available to force the NFLPA to honor its commitment.

Now, it won’t matter. With Congress poised to finally fire a shot across the league’s collective bow, it’ll be time for the NFL and the NFLPA to clean up the mess before Congress cleans it up for them, by for example passing a law giving the USADA the keys to the entire NFL drug-testing kingdom.

The willingness of Congress to finally force the issue could, as we explained last year, include multiple interviews and depositions, all conducted behind closed doors. Players could be grilled about past instances of abuse of HGH and other banned substances. They also could asked to comment under oath on the prevalence of their use, and whether any personnel within the organizations are supporting the behavior. And specific situations that have never been fully investigated, such as the employment by the Steelers of a doctor who embraced HGH use, could become major points of interest for Congress.

Instances of potentially false testimony could result in Roger Clemens-style prosecutions.

The hearing will be conducted by Darrell Issa (R-Cal.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who thought they had successfully clunked the parties’ heads together in October 2011 at a meeting held on Capitol Hill. After said head-clunking, Issa and Cummings announced that HGH testing could begin as soon as the following week.

Or, apparently, as late as 13 months later. And counting.