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Baseball thinks harder about HGH testing

Mar 5, 2010, 10:50 AM EDT

HGH.jpgMLB’s Rob Manfred attended a PED seminar yesterday and offered some more words about HGH testing in baseball:

Manfred said that the positive test in England “is an important
confirmation of the strength and science involved” in the H.G.H. blood
test and that baseball was working to apply the test on a widespread
basis.

An HGH test may or may not be workable and wonderful and all of that — I really don’t know enough about it, or the drug, to say — but I am rather surprised that everyone keeps referring to this rugby player as evidence that people need to get moving on the test. 

Why? Because all of the stories that have come out since that test note that the player wasn’t caught merely by testing. Rather, his league had intelligence (i.e. a tip) that he was using HGH, and then went to specifically test him based on that tip.  If they didn’t have the tip, they never would have caught the guy in all likelihood, because HGH doesn’t stay in the bloodstream that long. Indeed, the UK anti-doping agency that caught the guy is on record as saying that intelligence, as opposed to testing, is becoming far more important in their battle against HGH.  The same sort of intelligence that nabbed Braves’ prospect Jordan Schafer for HGH just last year.

I don’t offer this to slam baseball’s desire to implement HGH testing. As with most things, a combination approach is best. Do some testing if it makes sense. Use intelligence too. It’s all good.  It’s just probably worth remembering that there is more to life than just testing, and that, contrary to what so many writers say, the presence or absence of an HGH test doesn’t automatically render baseball’s drug program effective or ineffective.  

  1. Rays fan - Mar 5, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    Great post, I completely agree.

  2. Old Gator - Mar 5, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    Sure hope Bud Light doesn’t sprain anything while “thinking harder.” With his luck, the only doctor around will be from the Mutts’ medical staff.

  3. YeahBut - Mar 5, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    The presence would work like The Club for cars. It acts as a deterrent but doesn’t actually prevent anything.
    A valid test issued randomly will make people re-evaluate their options.
    Intelligence is still king but if baseball gets the test implemented, I would be shocked if HGH use didn’t decline just due to the threat of being caught.
    Of course, nobody ever accused baseball players of being the sharpest tools in the shed.

  4. I love baseball - Mar 5, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    Intelligence in the case of Schafer was MLBs 800 number. Totally anonymous and with no recourse for the accuser. This hotline was established after the Mitchell report. I consider this type of “intelligence” as being no real proof. For a young player trying to break in, the “easier” course of action was to take the suspension and move on. If baseball and science can’t figure out an effective testing program because of the nature of HGH, they shouldn’t overswing by trusting only no name sources… hopefully science will catch up and MLB and the players union will work to keep the game clean.

  5. Wells - Mar 5, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    Still don’t get the anti HGH crusade. It’s sports medicine. It’s like, hey, let’s allow the sports medicine of inferior efficacy, but the good stuff, that really fixes you up and puts you back on the field quicker- you know, the whole point of sports medicine- that’s, uh, gotta be banned?
    Weird, weird, weird. HGH will be legit sooner or later. It’s medicine.

  6. Rays fan - Mar 5, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    Nooo…HGH to treat a disease that involves growth hormone deficiency is medicine. HGH used as a PED is unethical. Possession and use without a prescription is illegal–a misdemeanor. Distribution for illegitimate purposes is also illegal–a felony. Don’t hold your breath awaiting it “to be legit sooner or later;” & no worthwhile physician will prescribe it for use as a PED.

  7. Pete Toms - Mar 5, 2010 at 4:50 PM

    Manfred’s statement and MLB’s plans to implement testing in the minors isn’t about the efficacy of this test that caught the rugby dude, nor is it about “cleaning up” MLB. This is about MLB managing public opinion on the state of PEDs in their industry.
    The better story will be if the FBI catches some of Galea’s patients in a lie about past HGH use.

  8. Wells - Mar 5, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    Physicians will use it to cure injuries involving muscle, bone and cartilage and get athletes back to work quicker, just as physicians might use it to do the same for you.

  9. Rays fan - Mar 5, 2010 at 11:19 PM

    Feel free to go look in a PDR (Physicians desk reference). You’ll discover HGH is not indicated for the treatment of injuries. No, a doctor will not prescribe it for a routine injury, rarely for any injury. I am a physician, dude & here’s how many times I’ve ever prescribed it: ZERO.

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