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Get used to Bartolo Colon-style stem cell procedures, because they’re going to explode in popularity

Jun 1, 2011, 3:19 PM EDT

Bartolo Colon

Dr. Damon Noto, who is one of five doctors in the United Statess who performs stem cell procedures like the one Bartolo Colon got before this season was on WFAN yesterday. When asked if we’re going to see a lot more of this kind of thing he said you can bet your bippy on it:

“Absolutely. You’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg here. This is really going to explode. In the next five years the field of regenerative medicine, using your own body cells to heal itself is going to explode. I mean athletes are really going to be demanding these types of things. Instead of major surgeries they’re going to want to use their own bodies ability to heal.”

He also noted — and please pay attention to this, PED hand-wringers — that it is not at all clear that HGH, testosterone or other added drugs provide any benefit to this surgery and that the procedure is very powerful on its own.

My instant reaction: all of this is going to take us to a place many who have followed the PED debates for years have expected to eventually be: where safe, mainstream medicine provides physical enhancements akin to or even greater than that provided by the use of illicit drugs.  Once the dirty film of the illegal drug trade is wiped off of this, it’s going to be a lot harder to decide what is and what isn’t fair in an athletic setting, mostly because the moralizing that stems from the fact that laws were broken will be irrelevant.

We have a choice: we can demonize this kind of thing now, when we outside of the medical world know very little about it yet, or we can actually try to figure it all out.  Those people jumping on Bartolo Colon — or even simply mocking him — have made a choice already.  But it’s not the only choice.

  1. chrisdtx - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    I fail to see how Colon’s procedure differs significantly from Tommy John surgery. Replace the word “elbow ligament” with “stem cell” and it seems to be the same deal.

    • rexryanisablowhard - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:42 PM

      Copyright it now…Bartolo Colon Surgery

      • Brian Murphy - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:58 PM

        If we can’t use cells out of our own bodies on ourselves to become better physical beings, why do we exist?

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:04 PM

        Isn’t injecting yourself with your own oxygen rich blood considered a banned procedure in the Olympics?

      • scatterbrian - Jun 1, 2011 at 5:41 PM

        Bartolo Colonoscopy

  2. Chris Fiorentino - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    If it isn’t illegal or against the rules of Major League baseball, as illegally-obtained PEDs always were, then it shouldn’t be a problem for anyone. What’s the problem here?

    • drmonkeyarmy - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:30 PM

      I don’t know why anybody would have a problem with this. You will probably get a bunch of thumbs downs though….just because.

  3. yankeesfanlen - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    I think they should do this kind of stuff first on MSM writers so they’ll get smarter and realize that medical procedures are used in many good ways.

  4. Glenn - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    I still think there is a big difference between legal medical procedures and illegal performance inhancing drugs. Anyone who has competed against other athletes who have used PEDs knows full well that it is cheating, as do the users of the PEDs themselves. The confusion of the ignorant equating stem cell injections versus PEDs is comical though. And I am definitely with you that the stigma of PEDs will disappear over time, I just don’t see how that makes PED use ok – past, present, or future.

    • tadthebad - Jun 1, 2011 at 8:38 PM

      Color me ignorant, but aren’t PIDs and stem cell injections similar in that they each represent an advancement in medicine towards repair of one’s body? I don’t consider them equal, but perhaps similar enough in terms of inhancing performance, no?

  5. bigxrob - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    I’m sure the national media would not be at all concerned with the procedure being performed on NFL players

  6. wrigleyivy - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:40 PM


    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:07 PM

      He’s a professional athlete (inset fat joke here everyone). Let’s not forget that he was a damned good pitcher not that long ago, who generally gained velocity late in games. It seems very Fountainhead to me that anyone who is better than ‘slightly-above-average’ is now subject to witch-hunting reporters/bloggers/commentors.

      • cur68 - Jun 1, 2011 at 6:32 PM

        Joey The Bat agrees.

  7. jamie54 - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    Can I have some of those Einstein brain cells floating around Harvard, Oxford, or wherever they might be preserved? Surely would help me out, lemme tell ya. Medically if these help a ball player or better yet anyone, individual’s rehabbing from an accident, etc., all for it. Betterment of human kind so what’s to argue with?

  8. rexryanisablowhard - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    Advances in medicine will have impacts on sports, and now that the applications of stem cell therapy are moving from labratory to real life application, there is no telling the impacts. Heck, if Sandy Koufax had the Tommy John surgery option, he might have pitched another 5 plus seasons. Same with guys like Gale Sayers and Billy Simms who had their pro careers shortened by knee injuries, or even Mickey Mantle. Today they are back in less than year after ACL surgery. If this is a true medical breakthrough in the sense that it has a legit application in modern sports, then the Bartolo Colon surgery will be commonplace within 2-3 years.

  9. Alex K - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    People who jump on Bartolo Colon probably bounce really high.

  10. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    He’s a witch!! BURN HIM!!!!

  11. Old Gator - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    The way I see it, this is against God. When folks is all busted up and broken down, they should stay all busted up and broken down. If God wanted us running around on two legs and standing upright, he would have made us bipeds in the first place.

    • rebarratige - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:20 PM

      It ain’t Christian.

  12. krhallo - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    This is absolutely an insane debate. We are questioning whether to allow athletes to heal their own bodies or have a physician cut on them. Insanity.

    • grizz2202 - Jun 1, 2011 at 5:49 PM

      I agree. Your comment reminds me of the Star Trek movie (yeah, I know, shaddup) where they go back in time and Bones sees people of our time going into surgery and calls us barbarians. Then he whips out some device and BOOM! Chekov’s cured.

  13. royalsfaninfargo - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    I think you raise good points craig. I personally dont know enough (or anything for that matter) about this kind of procedure to be for or against. One interesting thing to note is whether MLB will require players who do this to notify MLB or their respective teams.

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