NFL: Gridiron union hails CAS decision on skier Veerpalu

Rarely will an Estonian nordic skiing champion be hailed by the stars of American football, but that's exactly what happened Tuesday after a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

National Football League Players Association (NFPLA) officials have been fighting the start of a human growth hormone (HGH) testing program by the NFL with pressure from US lawmakers, saying the test was not scientifically valid.

So they were interested observers when CAS upheld double Olympic nordic ski champion Andrus Veerpalu's appeal against a three-year doping ban from 2011, dismissing it due to procedural flaws that raise the risk of false positives.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) hit Veerpalu, who won gold in 2002 at Salt Lake City and in 2006 at Turin, with a ban after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) test detected a higher-than-permitted level of HGH.

That played perfectly into what the NFLPA has argued for years, namely that WADA's test for HGH was not "scientifically verifiable."

"An independent arbitration panel's decision found that the WADA isoform HGH test is unreliable," a statement from the NFL union said.

"For almost two years, NFL players have fought the NFL and certain members of Congress who have publicly referred to the players' insistence on scientific validity and fairness as 'stalling' and 'posturing.'

"Today's decision validates the players' demand for scientific validity, full due process rights and a transparent system."

In the decision, arbitrators said the test "failed to establish to the comfortable satisfaction of the panel that the decision limits were correctly determined and that they would lead to the claimed specificity of 99.99 percent.

"The panel cannot exclude to its comfortable satisfaction that the decision limits are overinclusive and could lead to an excessive amount of false positive results."