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  1. Sports
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  3. Vipers

Unlike the NFL, the XFL will not test for marijuana

The league also will include more women on its officiating crews.
When he was in the NFL, Tampa Bay Vipers wide receiver Antonio Callaway received a drug-related suspension. When it comes to marijuana testing in the XFL, that won't be an issue. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
When he was in the NFL, Tampa Bay Vipers wide receiver Antonio Callaway received a drug-related suspension. When it comes to marijuana testing in the XFL, that won't be an issue. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]

ST. PETERSBURG — After months of rumors, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck said Wednesday that the league will not test for marijuana.

“Our drug testing policy includes (performance-enhancing drugs) but it does not include marijuana,” Luck said during an interview on Barstool Radio’s Sirius XM Channel.

The announcement opens up opportunities for players who currently use — or have previously used — the drug, like the Vipers’ Antonio Callaway. The former Florida Gator was cut from the Cleveland Browns in November for multiple issues, which included a 10-game drug-related suspension.

This standard differs from that of other professional leagues significantly.

Major League Baseball’s drug policy was last updated in December and now includes opioid testing in addition to cocaine, fentanyl and synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Players caught using marijuana face a treatment-based plan, similar to how the league treats alcohol abuse. The NFL has stood firm on its drug policy in that testing positive for marijuana — or other banned substances — can lead to a suspension without pay.

But the increasing use of these drugs as alternative forms of medicine has put pressure on professional leagues to take another look at their policies.

XFL officiating crews more inclusive

The league is also trying to stand apart from its competition by allowing more opportunities for females and minorities on officiating crews.

"We were looking for a staff of officials — qualified, good officials — but we wanted an inclusive group," XFL head of officiating Dean Blandino told USA Today in a phone interview Tuesday. "We ended up with six (female) on-field officials and one replay official. And then just started putting the crews together, and that's just kind of how it all played out."

In addition to Terri Valenti, a veteran NFL replay official, the league announced the six other females who will officiate on crews this season: line judges Maia Chaka, Robin DeLorenzo and Tangela Mitchell; side judge LaShell Nelson; center judge Amanda Sauer-Cook; and field judge Sabrina Brunson.

"It's just very important to have that mix of people, because that creates a better environment," Blandino said. “Just dealing with different types of people, and people from different walks of life, helps you as an official, as well as communicating, dealing with players and coaches. It's just something that we've always thought was very important."

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

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