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

Sep 23, 2013, 4:10 PM EST

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 CBSSports.com 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 CBSSports.com, “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.

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