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Stern says he expects HGH blood tests in NBA in year

Feb 6, 2013, 4:36 PM EDT

needle, syringe, drug Getty Images

There is a sense around the NBA that performance-enhancing drugs are not an issue in the NBA the way they have shown to be in baseball and football. Ask around the league and you generally get a “never seen it, never heard of it really” response from players and front office types.

Consider me skeptical. I’ve seen human nature and if you give people an incentive — lots of money, fame, all the perks of an NBA lifestyle — some of them will do whatever it takes to get it. If you think a drug that helps someone get stronger and recover more quickly wouldn’t help an NBA player, you are naïve.

For the NBA, the question is human growth hormone (HGH). And in an interview on WCCO in Minnesota NBA Commissioner David Stern said he wants to see testing for it before he leaves office in a year. The transcription of the interview is by Ben Golliver at Sports Illustrated’s The Point Forward.

“We watch what’s going on in baseball, we watch the negotiations that are going in with football, and it is my expectation that by next season will be doing blood testing for HGH,” Stern told WCCO radio in Minnesota. “Our players have been terrific. they lead this in some ways, saying, ‘ We do not want to have anything less than the best.’ That’s been the way it’s been since 1983….

“If I say I don’t have a concern, everyone says I’m a Pollyanna,” Stern said. “I don’t have any reason to know one way or another. My guess is and my hope is that it’s not widely used in the NBA.”

The MLB is just about to start in-season testing for HGH as they battle the latest round of PED allegations involving some of the biggest names in the sport. At his Super Bowl press conference NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he expects HGH testing by next season.

The NBA needs to join this list. I hope when they test they don’t find anything. But sorry if I don’t believe a every person who could would stay within the law if they thought they could have an NBA career out of it.

  1. zblott - Feb 6, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    I assume they’re waiting for Kobe’s retirement so that we don’t have to find out the hard way what was going on in Germany each summer when a guard well into his 30’s quickly came back from multiple injuries with no lasting effects.

  2. cantonbound13 - Feb 6, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    The NBA has no drug testing what so ever. Stern is not fooling anyone. When was the last time you heard of a player getting busted? Do you honestly think no players are taking PED’s? Please!

    • cosanostra71 - Feb 6, 2013 at 4:50 PM

      Chris Andersen was suspended a couple years ago due to violating the NBA’s drug policy. Probably not for steroids but obviously they are testing if they caught him.

      • Mr. Wright 212 - Feb 6, 2013 at 8:55 PM

        They’ll never suspend a marquee guy. Stern cares more about pushing the NBA logo than the true integrity of the game.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Feb 6, 2013 at 8:57 PM

      Russ definitely is. LeBron and Wade with their HGH jaws were obviously using with the jaw tumors. I would suspect 1 in 3 is using something.

    • badintent - Feb 6, 2013 at 11:17 PM

      NBA is a joke compared to NFLl and MLB at this stage of the game.NBA has enough bad PR with players’ DUIs amd weed bust.Everyone knows that 99% of the NFL players switched over from roids to HGH because of the lasck of HGH testing.Stern is only fooling himself if he really thinks we buy into any of his BS.He can’t even police the refs, so how would he be able to deal with the NBAPA and it head in the sand stance effectively. ? Make WADA the independent drug tester, so many guys will get busted , we can all get a roster spot.

    • chrisppers - Feb 7, 2013 at 4:46 PM

      If all HGH did was help players recover faster and not perform better than they would if they were %100 healthy, there shouldn’t be a ban against it, after all, don’t we all want to see all these players playing at %100 more often than not? If it would make them perform better (faster, stronger etc..) than if they weren’t on it but still at %100, then that’s another story.

  3. leearmon - Feb 6, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    Also, Rashard Lewis, Lindsay Hunter, OJ Mayo have all been busted for using PED, just to name a few.

    • cantonbound13 - Feb 6, 2013 at 7:07 PM

      I mean real players, not guys at the end of their career. Don’t you find it suspicious that LeBron is 260 all muscle with a receding hairline at 25?

      • Mr. Wright 212 - Feb 6, 2013 at 9:12 PM

        And had an HGH jaw for the WORLD to see, but yet everyone acted like they didn’t know what it was about…

    • tommmatheson - Feb 7, 2013 at 4:10 PM

      OJ Mayo was prescribed the PED by Memphis team doctors I believe, but totally agree with your point.

  4. dirtyjerseysports - Feb 6, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    Look out LeBron….

  5. thetooloftools - Feb 6, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    So… when is the NBA going to start testing for weed? Hahahahaha… the benches would be empty.

    • daddyghi - Feb 7, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      i need to reply on this one dude… that’s funny! seeing a whole bench of blood-shut-eyed players…

  6. pfruge - Feb 6, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    Thank you Kurt for being skeptical. Most people are in denial about PEDs in the NBA. And many of those same people were in denial about Lance Armstrong’s use. There are too many players in the NBA with unnatural athletic ability. I am skeptical about the PGA also.

  7. nygrwy - Feb 6, 2013 at 9:22 PM

    There are no accurate tests for HGH. Its half life in the blood is like an hour. HGH does not make you lose your hair either. If anything it helps with hair growth as it help with everything else.

    • eventhorizon04 - Feb 7, 2013 at 12:29 AM

      You’re both wrong and right.

      You’re wrong that there are no accurate tests for HGH – accurate tests do exist, but they require blood samples.

      You’re right that the half-life of HGH is short, but that just means testing is only effective if certain conditions are met.

      First – Players have to be willing to give up a blood sample – HGH levels in urine are too small to effectively detect increases.

      Second – Players have to be willing to be tested on *short notice* – this is important because of the short half-life. Within a day, most of an injected dose has been cleared from the blood. In order to effectively catch an HGH user, the test has to be done within a day of the player injecting himself with HGH.

      And that’s why implementing HGH testing protocols are hard for all these professional sports: It has to be a blood sample – for tests to get an accurate reading of HGH levels – and these blood sample collections have be done on short notice.

      A player CANNOT have more than 24 hours-worth of notice prior to the test. If a player knows a day in advance that he’ll be tested, he’ll avoid using the hormone for over a day, by which point his previous dose will be cleared from his system.

      Surprise blood testing is tough logistically to organize and earn player cooperation for, which is why the NFL and NBA haven’t gotten it done.

  8. themagicfanguy - Feb 6, 2013 at 10:24 PM

    Lebron, Griffin, and Dwight are screwed.

  9. daddyghi - Feb 7, 2013 at 9:35 AM


  10. borderline1988 - Feb 7, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    Lebron and Kobe both have staminas that are truly remarkable and have been able to avoid injury or get back from it quickly…I wouldn’t be surprised if they were using something.

    I still can’t get over the Bulls-Heat playoff series 2 years ago, in one particular game when Lebron played practically the entire game and then overtime came around, and he was defending Rose on every play, and he looked as fresh as if it was the first quarter, even though Rose (who is no conditioning slouch himself) was clearly tired at that point. I kept thinking to myself – does this guy ever get tired? He weighs 270 pounds and is clearly the most conditioned (stamina-wise) player in the game.

    And Kobe – he’s logged so many minutes and has had issues with his knees, and still basically never misses games or slows down.

    I’m no expert in PEDs, so I don’t know how HGH would help stamina-wse, but it wouldnt surprise me.

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