After holding out all of last season, Le’Veon Bell signed a four-year contract with the Jets this offseason, worth more than $50 million. He’s experienced a disappointing first season in New York, and now he’s making headlines for an off-the-field issue.
Bell believes the NFL is targeting him for drug testing more than other players — possibly because of his two drug suspensions in 2015 and 2016. The running back has already been tested five times this year, and he is getting really frustrated about it.
The NFL’s drug testing policy
According to the league and players’ association, NFL players are randomly chosen to be tested for performance-enhancing drugs and recreational drugs, including marijuana. All players are subject to testing throughout the year, with tests often performed during the first two weeks of training camp.
Players in the NFL’s drug program are subject to more frequent testing — up to six tests per year. Testing involves both an A sample and a B sample, with the B sample serving as a second sample for confirmation if the A sample comes up positive for a banned substance.
Le’Veon Bell’s drug tests and suspensions
Bell tweeted that he has “had 5 ‘random’ HGH blood test[s] in 10 weeks,” and he’s “not doing another after today.” Since he is under the six-test limit, if Bell is asked to take another test and refuses, he could face a suspension.
The 27-year-old has already been suspended twice for drug-related violations. After being charged with DUI and marijuana possession in 2014, he was suspended for two games in the 2015 season.
Then, in 2016, he was suspended four games for a missed drug test, which the league considers the same as a failed test. Neither of those suspensions were related to performance-enhancing drugs or HGH, which is what Bell has been tested for five times this year.
Given his history with marijuana, the wide receiver thinks he’s being singled out, rather than being subjected to random tests. He said he feels like every time the testers are at the Jets’ facility to perform HGH testing, he gets picked.
Bell’s big problem with the tests
While it seems like Bell is upset with being chosen to be tested so often, he says his real issue is the way he’s being tested — by having blood drawn. He doesn’t like needles, and that is what’s bothering him about all of the recent tests.
The wide receiver says if the NFL wants to have him pee in a cup to be tested, he “can do that all day,” but he doesn’t “want anything to do with needles.”
Peeing in a cup isn’t an option for HGH testing. Unlike marijuana, HGH can’t be detected in urine and drawing blood is the only reliable test for the substance. This doesn’t matter to Bell, who threatens that the league isn’t “getting no more of my blood. They can use the blood they’ve got now.”
Le’Veon Bell’s future with the Jets
Between Bell’s disappointing season and the Jets being in rebuild mode, it seems like the circumstances could lead to a separation between the two after this season. However, the money situation may prevent it from happening.
If the Jets can’t trade Bell in the offseason, they are unlikely to cut the veteran running back. It would be a $19 million charge in dead money if the team cuts him.
Bell can opt-out of the last two years of the deal after 2020, but he is unlikely to do so if his lack of production continues next season. At that point, though, the Jets may be more willing to cut him because the cap hit will continue to decrease as time goes on.