CFL appoints Dr. Bob McCormack, Dr. Dhiren Naidu as Chief Medical Officers

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Oilers

The CFL has appointed Dr. Bob McCormack and Dr. Dhiren Naidu as its Chief Medical Officers, the league announced on Wednesday.

McCormack and Naidu will lead a CFL Medical Committee comprised of top health professionals and executives from the league and its clubs.

“I want to publicly thank Doctors McCormack and Naidu for the invaluable expertise and guidance they have provided us over countless hours as we have developed the health and safety protocols for our return to play this summer,” said CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie in a press release.

“We are absolutely thrilled they have both agreed to serve as our Chief Medical Officers as they represent the same standard of excellence while hailing from different and complementary specialties. Leading the strong and accomplished group that comprises our new CFL Medical Committee, they will guide our mission to protect and improve the health and safety of our players, coaches and staff.”

Dr. McCormack, the Medical Director of the British Columbia Lions, is a Professor of Medicine in the University of British Columbia’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery. He is the Chief Medical Officer for the British Columbia Hockey League and the Medical Director for the Canadian Premier League.

Dr. McCormack also served as the Medical Director for the Alberta “curling bubble” that recently hosted three national and two world championships. He served as the Chief Medical Officer for the Canadian Olympic Committee from 2005 to 2019.

Dr. Naidu, the Medical Director and Head Team Physician of the Edmonton Elks, is a Professor of Medicine in the University of Alberta’s Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

He also serves as the Medical Director and Head Team Physician for the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League, the Head Team Physician for the University of Alberta Golden Bears football team, and the Chief Medical Officer for the Western Hockey League.

Dr. Naidu was the Medical Director for the NHL’s Edmonton “bubble” during the 2020 season. He has represented the CFL on the International Collision Sports Group, which has collaborated on concussion research, prevention and treatment and includes leading organizations for professional hockey, gridiron football, Aussie rules football and rugby.

“It’s both a deep honour and very important responsibility to take on this enhanced role with the Canadian Football League, working with Dr. McCormack,” said Dr. Naidu, who has been member of the CFL Medical Executive since 2012.

“One of my goals is to build on the work the CFL has done with other collision sports leagues, which has focused on concussions and is expanding to encompass issues such as return to play with COVID-19 and the overall mental health of athletes.”

Dr. McCormack, who has served on the CFL’s Medical Committee since 2011, added: “I welcome this opportunity to work in collaboration with Dr. Naidu and our fellow committee members. What we want to do is take this to the next level when it comes to participating in leading research, collaborating with other contact sports leagues, and working with the Canadian Football League Players Association to safeguard the health of our athletes, improve their performance and make the game even better.”

The CFL Medical Committee also includes:

  • Alain Couture, Director of Health and Performance and Head Athletic Therapist for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
  • Claire Toffelmire, Head Athletic Therapist for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
  • Darren Hackwood, Associate Vice-President, Officiating and Health and Safety for the Canadian Football League.
  • Greg Dick, Chief Financial Officer and Head of Football Operations for the Canadian Football League.

“Working with this committee and the Canadian Football League Players Association, the Chief Medical Officers’ responsibilities include research coordination, protocol development, ongoing education, liaison with health and safety personnel across the league and participation in regular league meetings and international committees and conferences,” Dick said.

“They also work with our players association and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport to manage our anti-doping program. Having worked closely with both Dr. Naidu and Dr. McCormack on several issues, including our COVID-19 protocols this year, I have every confidence that they and their fellow committee members will serve the CFL and its athletes, coaches and staff very well in the years ahead.”