Jason Kelce on PED abusers: 'They're out there'

Jason Kelce on PED abusers: 'They're out there'
July 31, 2013, 9:00 am
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Jason Kelce on the league's current PED penalties: "The punishment does not fit the crime in the NFL, in my opinion." (AP)

Jason Kelce knows some of his NFL brethren are cheating the game, using banned anabolic steroids to enhance their muscles or the controversial human growth hormone to ease the wear and tear.

“I know they’re out there,” the Eagles center said, although he admitted he has never seen anyone use banned performance-enhancing drugs and couldn’t fairly estimate the percentage of league-wide abusers.

“I wouldn’t even be able to ballpark it,” he added. “I would bet that if any of those guys are smart, they’re going to get off of it before they’d even be tested.”

Advanced drug testing is on its way into the NFL, once the league and players union hammer out some final details, reports indicate.

Kelce and tight end James Casey both said they had received e-mails from the league recently, informing them that NFL players would soon undergo blood testing as league officials determine baseline levels for human growth hormone (HGH).

Veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans, the Eagles’ union representative, said he hasn’t yet addressed the team about the impending agreement and testing protocol, but he pitched his support for cleaning up the game.

“I don't know if it's going to happen right now, but right now the HGH -- if you have cheaters in the game, find them out,” he said. “For a guy like me, I'm not worried about it. I don't cheat. I don't use HGH, so it's not a big deal."

The league already has testing in place for recreational drugs and certain amphetamines and other performance enhancers, such as Adderall, that can be detected through urine samples. Testing for HGH involves blood samples, which has caused roadblocks in the past between the league and players union toward stronger testing for more steroids.

The Eagles haven’t had a player suspended by the league since cornerback Joselio Hanson missed four games in 2009 for violating drug policy. At the time, Hanson’s legal counsel said the cornerback had tested positive for an illegal diuretic, a substance banned because it can serve as a masking agent for steroids, taken by Hanson to remedy bloating.

Casey, who played his first four seasons in Houston, said he had no problem with being blood tested.

“I think it is important,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with that. I’m not taking HGH, so I don’t really care, and I don’t want anybody else taking it -- it’s a disadvantage to myself. I think it’s good. You want to try to make the game fair. We get drug tested all the time anyway, so it’s no big deal to me.”

Kelce likewise supported the premise of stricter testing but urged the league to come down harder on players who test positive for HGH and other anabolic steroids than those found to have taken amphetamines.

Right now, the punishment for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy is a four-game suspension for first-time offenders.

“I don’t understand why if somebody takes Adderall, which is an amphetamine, which is out of your system within 24 hours, [he] has the exact same punishment level as someone who takes anabolic steroids, HGH, testosterone,” Kelce said. “How much is Adderall really affecting your play on the field? Maybe miniscule, making it better.”

“If you’re going to suspend a guy for Adderall for four games, [then] anabolic steroids, testosterone, that should be a year-long suspension. The punishment does not fit the crime in the NFL, in my opinion. If you’re going to put four games on all these little miniscule things, then for the harsher ones that are really affecting [the game] and making players much better, they need to be severely worse, in my opinion.”

Kelce said the game wouldn’t change drastically when the new testing program is in place, and players wouldn’t suddenly shrink in stature or lose speed and quickness, but he believes the days of veterans playing into their late 30s won’t last.

“You look at guys who have just played for a number of years -- and obviously I’m not trying to say all those guys are on it -- that’s kinda probably the greater chance where you’re going to find the HGH users,” he said, “in the older group of players. Just because they are the ones who are going to need them more.”