November 24, 2017 2:05 pm
Updated: November 24, 2017 3:05 pm

Toronto doctor refutes CFL’s claim there’s not enough evidence to link concussions to CTE

CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie held a "State of the League" conference on Friday, where he said league is committed to exploring the "cause and effect" and risk of concussions within the sport.

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CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie says there isn’t enough scientific evidence linking football head injuries to brain disease.

Ambrosie says he is “looking at all the evidence together and the answer is we don’t know” if there is a connection between concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

The NFL has conceded there is a link, but the CFL has not followed suit.

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“The science is still very unclear. It is not conclusive. When we come back to it at the end of the day, we are going to work our tails off to make this game as safe as we can.”

Former CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge drew widespread criticism during last year’s Grey Cup when he denied the existence of a link.

The CFL is facing a $200-million class-action lawsuit over concussions and brain trauma.

LISTEN:  Dr. Neilank Jha, Toronto-based physician running a clinic specializing in concussion treatment and research

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The strongest scientific evidence says CTE can only be diagnosed by examining brains after death, although some researchers are experimenting with tests performed on the living.

READ MORE: Toronto Zoo panda predicts Grey Cup winner

Many scientists believe that repeated blows to the head increase risks for developing CTE, leading to progressive loss of normal brain matter and an abnormal buildup of a protein called tau. Combat veterans and athletes in rough contact sports like football and boxing are among those thought to be most at risk.

While he hasn’t seen enough evidence to be convinced that concussions can lead to CTE, Ambrosie says he is committed to making the game “better and safer for our players.”

Ambrosie made the comments at news conference today in advance of Sunday’s Grey Cup.

Dr. Neilank Jha, a Toronto-based physician running a clinic specializing in concussion treatment and research, told AM640 he refutes Ambrosie’s statements and says the CFL needs to recognize there is a problem.

“In my opinion the comments of the commissioner, based on my experience and what I know, are misleading.  It’s more for a public relations purpose,” said Jha.

“Football is good for discipline and teamwork, but we need to recognize there’s a risk.”

With a file from AM640

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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