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Report: NBA, union near deal to allow HGH testing

Mar 8, 2013, 2:33 PM EDT

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The NBA needs to be testing for human growth hormone. Ask around the league and the first response of most people is that performance-enhancing drugs are not an issue in the NBA. I tend to be skeptical the league is that clean. But if it is or isn’t, there has to be testing.

And there will be soon, reports Henry Abbot at ESPN.

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are close to an agreement to test players’ blood for human growth hormone (HGH), according to sources with direct knowledge of the talks. Testing could begin as soon as the 2013-14 season.

David Stern has said before he expected HGH blood testing of players to happen within the next year.

Of course, the NBA has banned HGH for years, the problem has been it’s a blood test (nobody likes having blood drawn) and there were questions of the test’s reliability. But that is changing and putting pressure on the league to change, Abbott said.

But those concerns have eroded lately, sources say, with a frenzy of progress in talks between the league and union. A decisive factor: Major League Baseball and its respected union have agreed to blood tests for HGH, weakening the basketball union’s claims that the test was unreliable or that blood testing is too invasive.

Part of the challenge in getting this put together is former players union head Billy Hunter has been suspended, is expected to sue the league, and no replacement has been found. The union is a bit of a mess right now.

There are details to be worked out — is this blood test in addition to or replacing one of the six random urine tests players take a year? Will the test look just for HGH or other things as well?

The conventional wisdom has long been that steroids and PEDs are not prevalent in the NBA because being muscle-bound is not a real advantage. I don’t buy it — what HGH or designer steroids can do is help with recovery, and that is something NBA players could use. To bounce back quicker after a workout, or during the long seasons with four games in five nights at times, speeding recovery would be huge.

And frankly, there are people that will break the rules to get a shot at the money, fame and perks of an NBA lifestyle. To think some wouldn’t cross that line seems naïve to me.

Hopefully the testing will show I’m wrong, or at least expose the wrongdoers.

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