‘This was a medical decision, not a political one’: CFL defends decision to soften COVID protocols for McLeod Bethel-Thompson

Photo courtesy: CFL

The Canadian Football League is defending its decision to unilaterally change its COVID policy in order to provide Toronto Argonauts quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson and four other players a path towards playing in Sunday’s East Final against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

According to a tweet from TSN insider Dave Naylor: “From the CFL on it’s decision Friday: ‘This was a medical decision, not a political one. In these cases, the Commissioner defers 100 per cent to the CFL’s Chief Medical Officers … The decision on Bethel-Thompson was entirely based on their expertise and advice.'”

Bethel-Thompson was pulled from practice Friday after news broke that he had violated the CFL’s COVID protocol by attending a Toronto Raptors game on Thursday night on team orders to promote their East Final matchup with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Teammates Dexter McCoil, Charleston Hughes, Jeff Richards and Llevi Noel were also in attendance.

Players seeking to attend large scale gatherings must seek special permission from the league and may be given extra quarantine requirements under the CFL’s COVID protocol. Argos general manager Pinball Clemons took responsibility for the situation, saying he was made aware the players were attending the NBA game before hand and wrongly assumed they had received approval from the league office.

As per the CFL’s own original tier one personnel rules, Bethel-Thompson was supposed to quarantine for four days and require two negative tests before he is allowed to be around the team again, which would barred him from the very playoff game he was sent to promote.

However, the league ruled Friday that Bethel-Thompson needs to quarantine for just two days, complete three tests (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), and have all those tests come back negative in order to play Sunday.

That decision has drawn the ire of Ticats fans, as well as the CFLPA, which issued a statement questioning the league’s decision to amend their policy without consulting them. One day before the Division Finals kick off, the CFL is still dealing with the fallout from the embarrassing incident.