TORONTO—The CFL is making it harder for players who violate anti-doping regulations to enter the league.
The CFL and the CFL Players’ Association announced Thursday they’ve agreed to implement stricter rules for offending players to be drafted or sign contracts.
“We are taking these important steps today to ensure that there is a level playing field for all athletes entering the CFL,” commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said in a statement. “We are also hopeful that the CFLPA can continue to work with us to establish a new drug testing program for all CFL players that is meaningful and effective.”
A player violating the Canadian Anti-Doping Program or testing positive for a substance banned by the CFL up to 12 months before being draft eligible will be forced to defer his draft status for one year. Those going through the draft, regardless of whether they’re selected or not, who violate anti-doping rules will be ineligible to sign a CFL deal for one calendar year from the date of the positive test.
A player ineligible for the draft, from either the Canadian junior football ranks or an international player from another football league or sport, who violates the rules will be unable to sign a CFL contract for one year from the date of the violation.
The moves come after five players attending last year’s CFL combine tested positive for banned substances. Three were drafted with linebacker Jonathan Langa appearing in 16 games with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
The players all had university eligibility remaining before receiving four-year bans from the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, which handles testing for the CIS. The organization used to oversee drug testing at the combine, but the CFL severed ties in May after Christianne Ayotte, the head of the only Canadian lab sanctioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, publicly criticized the league’s drug policy.
Ayotte did not immediately respond to email and telephone messages requesting comment Thursday.
In 2014, Concordia defensive lineman Quinn Smith tested positive for a banned substance at CFL combine but was selected in the first round of the draft by the Calgary Stampeders and earned a Grey Cup ring with the club. As a first-time offender under the league’s drug policy, Smith faced mandatory testing and counselling.
“The CFLPA takes the total health and safety of our members very seriously and we are eager to continue progressive discussions,” CFLPA president Scott Flory said. “A policy to prevent and deter the use of performance enhancing drugs is seen as one of the critical components of the overall health and safety of players.”