Steroid policy will be offseason hot topic

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
U.S. District Court judge Paul Magnuson raised enough questions about the NFL's steroids policy that it's fair to begin wondering what changes could be imposed in time for the 2009 season.

The NFL Players Association plans to discuss the possibilities at its annual March retreat in Maui, Hawaii, according to Minnesota safety Darren Sharper, who is also the Vikings' player representative to the union. Sharper said he would like to see two specific issues addressed:

1. Clarity
Sharper said the policy should be "more concrete" and specify exactly what products can be consumed and which ones could result in a positive test. "It needs to be less confusing," Sharper said. As it stands, the NFL maintains a list of approved products and banned substances, but doesn't widely circulate a comprehensive list of specific products that contain banned substances.

2. The possibility of an independent arbitrator to settle disputes
Currently, NFL employees -- including chief attorney Jeff Pash -- preside over appeal hearings.

"The union and the NFL is definitely going to look at the policy now [during the offseason]," Sharper said. "We need to figure out what we need to do so that this doesn't have to happen again, with so much confusion."