MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT of the NY Times has the story. On the heels of a British Rugby player being the first professional athlete suspended for a positive HGH test, Bud Selig plans on ushering in a testing regime for all minor league players.
Major League Baseball, which had long been skeptical about a viable test for human growth hormone, now plans to implement blood testing for the substance in the minor leagues later this year, according to an official in baseball with direct knowledge of the matter.
But even with this latest breakthrough, some experts have still expressed doubts about this test and it’s effectiveness:
Nevertheless, Charles E. Yesalis, professor emeritus of exercise and sport science at Penn State and an antidoping expert, said Tuesday that although a rugby player had been caught he was still skeptical of the test’s efficacy.
“They have this test for some time and they only caught one guy,” Yesalis said in a telephone interview. “I wouldn’t bet my life on that test.”
A few observations. If you’ve read the IOC report on HGH, it’s not that big a deal. It doesn’t increase strength (just muscle mass) and most of the other reputed effects (faster injury healing, quicker recovery) were all found to be inconclusive. It did conclude that when used in conjunction with steroids it could enhance their effects, but doesn’t have the effect that steroids do. It may help a Baseball player get through the dog days of August, but long term effects like that weren’t addressed by the IOC report. Stimulants have been used by Baseball players for years to get them ‘up’ for a game, so I don’t think were tearing up the record books if that effect proves to be true.
To me, HGH has a bad rep for it’s prevalence among steroids users. Unlike steroids, it’s a naturally occurring substance that the body produces on it’s own. It simply wanes as you age, so to take a supplement to make up for it doesn’t strike me as ‘cheating’ or making you more than you could ever be on your own the way steroids do. But there are needles involved with HGH use, which further adds to the stigma. You can go to a vitamin store and buy Melatonin to help you sleep, which is another naturally occurring substance that wanes as you age. I don’t see much difference in a player taking HGH to maintain his body. But HGH has been seized upon by some shady medical practitioners as a ‘fountain of youth’ so again, it has a bad rep. I think unfairly so.