The CFL has been using a committee of trusted medical experts to develop health protocols tailormade for the league to potentially play in 2020, according to Sportsnet reporter Arash Madani.
Per Madani: Members included Randy Ambrosie, Dr. Copeland, a number of team and infectious disease doctors, immunologists, some league governors and general managers as well as past and present CFL trainers.
Perhaps the most impressive and accomplished member of the group is Dr. Lawrence Steinman, a professor at Stanford University and former immunology department chair, who like Dr. Anthony Fauci is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine.
The mission was clear: let’s get a proposal to return to the field and have a new process of getting games started.
Madani reports the committee wanted a minimum number of venues to stage practices and games. That led the group to Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the provinces with the lowest amount of COVID-19 cases where the CFL has teams and stadiums.
“What we were saying is, ‘let’s find one or two venues, keep everyone there and keep the venues close enough and play back and forth,’” Dr. Copeland explained to Madani.
Hub cities are hot topics among the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS as North American pro sports leagues try to figure out the best way to possibly hold games amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Regina and Winnipeg were identified as the two hub cities by the CFL’s medical committee, Madani reports five teams would congregate in one market, four in the other.
For any sports including the CFL to play in a hub city model or otherwise, strict guidelines would have to be followed. According to Madani: What got the CFL committee’s interest spiked was Dr. Steinman’s suggestion of a particular antibody test that is FDA-registered and takes only 15 minutes to provide a result. Stringent testing would help create a safe inner CFL bubble.
“Once in the inner zone, the assumption is the player is COVID-free until they go to the outside world. Nothing is official because nobody has made anything official yet” said Dr. Copeland.
“I’m very cautiously optimistic from a medical standpoint that the CFL can do this.”
Ambrosie asked the Canadian government for up to $150 million because of COVID-19 ramifications on the league and it’s finances. Money which could used to potentially execute the medical committee’s plan. If there is no season in 2020, it’s estimated the CFL could lose approximately $100 million.
“How much can we not lose? That’s the mode we’re in,” a source with a team in the league’s West Division told Madani.
“The whole conversation changes July 1 if we can’t move forward,” a league source told Madani. “Then we’re in trouble.”