Union, NFL work on retroactive testing

Updated: October 29, 2003, 10:46 PM ET

CHICAGO -- The NFL and its players association are working on a plan for a retroactive test for the previously undetectable designer steroid THG.

Union president Gene Upshaw and management council chairman Harold Henderson are intensively discussing the testing of previous samples, Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Wednesday at the league's fall meeting.

"This particular category of steroids has been on the prohibited list for quite some time. So Harold and Gene will work to strike a fair balance," Tagliabue said.

Union player representative Trace Armstrong of the Oakland Raiders said Wednesday his understanding is that samples go back only so far.

"There may be some samples there that have not been destroyed yet, but we have not been saving samples," he said.

But Upshaw said all samples are kept for a period of time.

"We're still trying to get our arms around it. There's no doubt we believe it should be tested for. And there's no doubt we believe it should be on the banned list," he said.

The NFL, with a strict steroid policy, announced last week that THG would be included in current testing for banned substances. On Wednesday, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer added it to their lists of banned substances.

"What we've said is we're testing for the substance. We haven't ruled out what we'd test or not test," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.

Henderson said the league and union must work together.

"There are a lot of open issues to think about and we don't have clear black and white answers to all of these issues," Henderson said.

"We're partners in this policy. We try not to dictate the way it works. We want to get some agreement on it."

Raiders defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield and running back Tyrone Wheatley both said they were subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in a case involving the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.

BALCO was raided by the Internal Revenue Service and local drug agents in September. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has said it believes a sample of THG came from BALCO.

"I think it's a big issue for all of sports right now," Armstrong said.

"As far as the guys who have been subpoenaed, I think it's important to remember that again none of them have tested positive," he said.

On another topic, Tagliabue said owners aren't in favor of changing the current preseason format of four games by adding two of the exhibitions to the regular season and creating an 18-game schedule.

"I think people viewed it as relatively radical and something that would require a long period of time before we'd ever get to that point," Tampa Bay general manager Rich McKay said.

Houston Texans owner Bob McNair agreed.

"There was not a whole lot of sentiment for changing it," he said. "I think coaches need the games to get prepared and learn more about our young players."

One of the biggest issues of the Fall meeting will be determined Thursday when the 2008 Super Bowl is awarded to Tampa, Fla., Tempe, Ariz., or Washington D.C.

Tagliabue also said there was no decision on a new or renovated stadium for Los Angeles to lure a team back to the city.

The commissioner added that the league is also prepared to develop another contingency plan if the wildfires force the San Diego Chargers away from their home field again.

Last Monday their game against Miami was moved to Tempe, and they are practicing this week in Champaign, Ill., in preparation for Sunday's game at Chicago.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index