New NFL drug-testing agreement hits snag; Broncos’ Welker won’t play Sunday

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Broncos receiver Wes Welker

NEW YORK — The NFL and the NFL Players Association reached general agreement Friday on a new drug-testing policy, but despite the union’s approval, the deal still has not been finalized due to “significant unresolved issues,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told ESPN Saturday.

This means suspended players potentially eligible for reinstatement — including Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker — will not play Sunday.

Earlier, many expected Welker’s four-game suspension for alleged amphetamine use to be lifted, making him eligible to play against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

Welker also cleared the team’s concussion protocols this week, meaning he’s medical able to play. However, since the wide receiver has not practiced all week, there is still a chance he won’t take the field Sunday.

Pro Football Talk was among the first to report about the new drug-testing deal’s expected impact on Welker.

Welker was suspended Sept. 2 by the NFL for alleged amphetamine use, just days before the regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts. Welker was scheduled to miss Sunday’s game as well as games against the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals.

The new drug-testing policy has been widely reported to include HGH testing for the first time and major changes to the marijuana policy.

ESPN reported a condition of the new policy was certain players currently serving suspensions under the old policy would have their suspensions adjusted to reflect the new policy.

Welker’s suspension fell under the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. But changes would place offseason amphetamine use under the substance-abuse category, which would call for probation for the first offense and a suspension for the second.

The Broncos have held an open roster spot leading to Sunday’s game against the Chiefs in anticipation of Welker’s suspension being scrapped.

ESPN also reported other changes included raising the limit of a positive marijuana test from the current 15 ng/ml of THC and the inclusion of a neutral arbitration of all drug case appeals, including for HGH.

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