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Report: NBA, players union nowhere near deal on HGH testing

Sep 23, 2013, 4:10 PM EDT

needle, syringe, drug Getty Images

To hear NBA Commissioner David Stern or commissioner in waiting Adam Silver tell it, the NBA has been working on setting up Human Growth Hormone (HGH) testing and is close, it’s just waiting for the players union to agree. There was even a report last March saying it could be in place for this coming season.

Um, not so much.

First came some suggestion new union president Chris Paul wanted to fight the league over the tests (which require the drawing of a player’s blood). Now comes a report from Ken Berger of that the league and union are nowhere close to an agreement on testing.

Officials from the league office and National Basketball Players Association met earlier this month in New York to continue discussions on the matter, but a person familiar with the talks told, “Nothing is anywhere near being agreed to.” The negotiations are ongoing, but the gap may be too wide to close in time for a policy to be in place in time for the start of the regular season.

The talks are stalled, and not where the NFL ones are stalled either. The NFL and its players’ union reached a tentative deal, it’s the details of implementation that have stalled things out for football.

For the NBA, the issue is not the biological passport idea but even how to get there.

Among the matters at issue is the proper establishment of baseline levels, the reliability of blood screening for HGH and disciplinary procedures, league sources said.

The NBA has largely been able to stay out of the PED scandals; while a couple players have gotten nailed (Hedo Turkoglu most recently) it’s been around the fringes. But the idea that an NBA player wouldn’t benefit from a substance that would help him recover more quickly between workouts — or facing four games in five nights — is ludicrous. And with the millions of dollars on the line to suggest human nature wouldn’t push some players to use the substance is naïve.

I don’t think PED use in the NBA is widespread, but I don’t wear David Stern’s rose-colored glasses either. The only way to know for sure is testing.

But we seem a long way off from that.

  1. motobus - Sep 23, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Who cares if they use HGH? Is it going to make them dunk harder?

    • antistratfordian - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:47 PM

      I have to agree with your initial sentiment even though it was expressed clumsily.

      HGH could actually help the sport as it allows safer, faster recovery from injury. It could help level the playing field between teams who suffered freak accidents and those who did not. It could also help level the playing field between those players whose genes naturally produce more HGH and those who produce less. Effort then becomes more important than who has the right genes.

      Also, it just strikes me as peculiar that endogenous substances (occurring naturally within in the body) like HGH are banned but exogenous performances enhancers like caffeine are not.

      • asimonetti88 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:47 PM

        There isn’t a whole lot of research as to whether HGH helps with injury recovery. There is no legitimate use for HGH for adults, so there isn’t a lot of research on what it does. The research that has been conducted shows that it helps with bone growth in youth. It doesn’t really show any help in ligaments or muscles, but there hasn’t been a lot of studies on it yet.

        Could it help with injury recovery? Perhaps, but we don’t really know. Based on what know it for sure does, I have my doubts.

      • antistratfordian - Sep 24, 2013 at 12:59 AM

        Your position is unconvincing. The one thing the literature appears more confident about is that it “activates a gene critical for the body’s tissues to heal and regenerate.”

        What we’re less confident about is if it leads to an increase in strength and performance.

        In any case, the solution I am becoming more and more fascinated with holds that the specific method should be irrelevant. Players should be allowed to take whatever they want to take so long as it is safe for them to do so. As I mentioned earlier this could level the playing field to allow winning to become more about effort and skill and less about who won the gene lottery (or who was able to evade testing).

      • asimonetti88 - Sep 24, 2013 at 11:03 AM

        I’ve never heard of that study you are quoting, and a Google search really only yielded one result, a ten year old study that makes that claim as HGH being a potential use in anti-aging. There is a wealth of studies showing the use of HGH in anti-aging is not effective.

        However, if you believe players should take whatever they want as long as it is safe, I’m not sure why you’d support HGH use. Unless you feel acromegaly is a positive.

      • antistratfordian - Sep 25, 2013 at 2:19 AM

        You’re going to an extreme here. Anything is dangerous in excess. Water will kill you if you drink enough of it.

        Over the past two decades sports has shown that PEDs can be administered safely. Could be even safer if it was brought into the open.

      • asimonetti88 - Sep 26, 2013 at 11:36 AM

        It’s not going to an extreme at all. The purpose of HGH is to grow bones. If your growth plates have already closed, there is nowhere for it to go but thicker, which is called acromegaly.

        When acromegaly occurs naturally, it is because of an excess of growth hormone in the pituitary gland.

      • antistratfordian - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:31 PM

        Athletes have already been using HGH for decades. Your fear of a plague of new acromegaly cases is unfounded.

      • asimonetti88 - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:41 PM

        You should look into why HGH is not legally approved for use in adults.

        I’m not sure you understand what purpose it serves. HGH was developed for children with growth hormone deficiencies to help them reach their growth potential by stimulating bone growth. HGH stimulates the cells that create bones. If your bone plates are already closed, they won’t get longer, although they will get thicker, which is acromegaly.

        This isn’t a steroid thing, this isn’t exclusive to athletes, this is what HGH does to any adult that takes it. There is a reason why there is no approved or legitimate use for HGH for adults.

        I’m not anti-steroids, I’m just saying. HGH use is not a good idea for adults.

      • antistratfordian - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:47 PM

        I am absolutely sure that you do not understand what purpose it serves.

      • asimonetti88 - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:51 PM

        My dad was on the development team, and my cousin needed to use HGH when he was younger. It is a part of my life story. That’s why I suggest looking into the matter more, as your contentions are off base.

      • antistratfordian - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:51 PM

        That doesn’t make you an expert, which you clearly are not.

      • asimonetti88 - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:54 PM

        No, it certainly doesn’t. But judging by your posts such as acromegaly not being a side effect (despite it being the end result of improper usage), you can’t claim expertise on this. Your claim is similar to saying that increased heart rate isn’t a side effect of caffeine.

      • antistratfordian - Sep 26, 2013 at 6:07 PM

        No. Just… no.

        I don’t know why you’re so obsessed with acromegaly. But it is not a concern and it is certainly not akin to increased heart rate from caffeine.

      • asimonetti88 - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:57 PM

        I’m curious as to what you think the purpose of HGH is if not to stimulate bone growth.

      • antistratfordian - Sep 26, 2013 at 6:22 PM

        HGH is used legally to treat a number of medical conditions. It is prescribed to stimulate muscle growth obviously, for several conditions that involve muscle atrophy. But is has also been used in post-op recovery from surgery.

        It also stimulates the creation of cartilage. Athletes have been using it since at least the 80s. There has been no spike in athlete acromegaly cases – it is still extremely rare.

      • asimonetti88 - Sep 26, 2013 at 11:18 PM

        It’s obvious you’re a contrarian by your other posts, but the fact you don’t think HGH causes acromegaly when used improperly, and that it stimulates cartilage growth, shows that you don’t understand the basic processes in which synthetic growth hormone works.

      • antistratfordian - Sep 27, 2013 at 3:03 PM

        No. Using HGH to stimulate cartilage growth is one of its most publicized and popular uses. I’m not sure how you’ve missed that.

        And I never said that I “don’t think HGH causes acromegaly when used improperly” – so I’m not sure why you’re calling that a fact. What I am saying is that it is not much a concern as it relates to our topic here, and that is a fact.

        Acromegaly is very rare in the first place, and 95% of cases are caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland that causes over secretion of growth hormone over many years – it’s very slow developing. So it being caused by something like injections into your knee joint over two months is beyond rare. In fact, its not even listed as a side effect concern like high blood pressure or joint swelling for such use.

        Athletes who undergo growth hormone therapy to repair cartilage will not have to worry about acromegaly.

  2. spthegr8 - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    ^^^^^^^^For the people that think using HGH doesn’t help basketball players. You couldn’t be more WRONG!!!! Research the drug and see some of it’s benefits. It’s enhances EVERYTHING you do…..EVERYTHING!!!^^^^^^^^^^

    • money2long - Sep 23, 2013 at 8:05 PM

      would barry bonds have as many homers if he was strictly using hgh ? who can explain the difference when it comes to steroids and hgh

      • asimonetti88 - Sep 24, 2013 at 12:00 AM

        HGH was developed for children with growth hormone deficiencies, which are often thyroid diseases. HGH stimulates the cells that create bones. If your bone plates are already closed, they won’t get longer, although they will get thicker, which is known as acromegaly (look up Andre the Giant for an example, although he had it naturally).

        Many years ago, Genentech, a company that helped develop synthetic GH, did a study to see if HGH helped with anti-aging, with the theory that it helped grow muscle mass. It did not have very conclusive results as far as growing muscle mass. That’s the only study I know about it. Like I said above, we don’t really know if HGH helps athletes one way or other. I still think it should be banned however, especially as it has very bad side effects for those using it improperly (which would be pretty much anyone who is an adult).

        Barry Bonds was reported to use Winstrol (among other drugs) which is an anabolic steroid. It does things like raise protein counts in your muscular and skeletal cells. It’s the same drug that Ben Johnson, the former Olympic runner, was using.

  3. antistratfordian - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    “The only way to know for sure is testing.”

    Even then you’ll never know for sure – there will always be ways around these tests.

    I’ve been considering more and more the radical suggestion of bioethics professor Julian Savulescu (directs the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at Oxford) and philosopher Peter Singer (professor of bioethics at Princeton). It’s something along the lines of: “Zero tolerance represents the kind of unreasonable limit that is destined to be ignored by athletes. It’s time to rethink the absolute ban and instead to pick limits that are safe and enforceable.”

  4. saint1997 - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    This is awful. People proudly tout that the NBA is supposedly drug free but it’s just rubbish when the testing has this many inherent flaws

  5. legend30 - Sep 23, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    Kevin Durant lucked out.

  6. mendenhallfumblemachine - Sep 23, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    Lebrick is relieved..

    • detectivejimmymcnulty - Sep 23, 2013 at 7:05 PM

      If Lebron is using HGH you better believe most elite players are. The NBA is a small circle of players and if, for example, Melo saw what HGH has done for Lebron (hypothetically) he would start using it as soon as possible.

  7. hildezero - Sep 23, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    “Say no to HGH drugs”

    – Michael Beasley

  8. ravenousmind - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    HGH should be allowed, all leagues should want their top athletes to play as long as possible!
    IGF-1 is also very helpful for broken bones (Checkout the Exogen Bone Stimulator)

    Also, If they can get a prescription, let it be allowed, just make them players association and league offices agree to in house doctors who prescribe the stuff.

  9. zeeliasokc - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    Just reading: “NBA, players union nowhere near deal” give me the chills. #lockoutfeelings

  10. papichulo55 - Sep 24, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    The Owners and the Players Union would be wise to carefully examine what this has done to MLB. Testing baseball players has beome bigger than he game itself! We already have laws, The Controlled Substance Act, that establish punishment guidelines for use of controlled substances. Its understood that the League has to have a policy. Just be low-key with it. Dont throw-out the baby with the bath water. Besides, as a fan, I care more about the rash of domestic violence and DUI reports.

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