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The league
Posted at 05:32 PM ET, 09/20/2011

Why ban HGH, when further study might show more positive than negative effects?

The rules of baseball require that every base runner touch second base on their journey from first to third base. Those are the rules. Rules are black and white. Rules are logical.

The debate as to the need for testing on the controversial use of HGH (Human Growth Hormone) lacks such logic. Instead it is a rush to judgement.

I am having a tough time getting my arms around the need for outlawing HGH (and thus having to test for the substance in the NFL). Before The NFL and the NFLPA agree to testing, I believe there must be proof that there is an actual need to outlaw the use of HGH by the NFL players.

At the same time, the NFL must take the proper time and allocate the necessary resources to determine if in fact HGH is harmful to the game and its players. They must determine that this supposed harm to players and the game outweighs the benefits many scientists have seen.

There exists proper rationale, science and law for outlawing and testing for anabolic steroids in all sports. Steroids are the double whammy in that they are both artificial performance enhancers as well proven causes of significant medical issues.

Any substance that artificially increases the performance of an athlete must be monitored. There is a distinction between working out and lifting weights to get stronger, and then taking an artificial substance to increase size and speed.

The second problem is that there is clear, strong and convincing medical evidence and data that shows steroid use causes significant, serious and sometimes fatal medical and mental consequences. Thus there is the need to ban such substances for both the integrity of the competitive nature of sport, as well as to protect athletes from the significant adverse consequences of sustained steroid use.

HGH, on the other hand, has not been proven to produce either of the issues relevant to the steroid debate. There are no significant or major medical studies showing any long-term adverse medical consequences from the sustained, long term use of HGH in athletes.

Further, there is a significant debate as to whether or not HGH is a performance enhancer or merely a medical enhancer for healing the human body. Certainly HGH has not yet been accepted by the mainstream medical community, a community that embraces anti-nflammatories, pain medicines, advances in surgical techniques and other even less mainstream medical remedies such as acupuncture and chiropration.

Use of HGH is a relatively new phenomenon, but it is still not clear if its advances are more akin to more mainstream medicines than steroids.

In fact, there are many scientific studies which show that HGH is actually good for players and aids in the healing process. HGH is, in reality, the same as a new form of surgery, a new medicine for pain or a new en vogue natural supplement.

It may take some time for it to become main stream and common place. For example, how is HGH different than “micro fracture” surgery (surgery where small holes called microfractures — tiny breaks — in the bone are drilled in a person’s knee near the damaged cartilage which makes bone release cells in to build new cartilage to replace the damaged cartilage.), the OATS (where tiny cartilage plugs are placed in human knees to replicate lost cartilage) or even Advil when it first came on the scene. All these treatments aid the body in healing.

It is important to realize that after week three of an NFL season, all players are in pain and hurting, and if in fact HGH can assist players in healing and relieving pain, then it should not be banned rather embraced, unless compelling medical research states otherwise.

The mere fact that HGH is a new phenomenon and a recent creation — in effect the same as the natural hormone that runs in human bodies — does not mean it rises to either the unnatural results or dangerous after-effects of anabolic steroids.

The science of HGH is still relatively young and perhaps the future will hold discoveries of more positive benefits or detrimental effects, but that is not the current status of the product. And by no means is anyone advocating the use of HGH without proper medical supervision, education and advice any more than one would advocate taking pain medicine or anti inflammatory drugs unsupervised.

At the same time, it is difficult to understand why the rush to prohibition, and the need to overtly and aggressively test and punish athletes who use it. As it stands, professional athletics will be better served by touching all the proverbial bases on HGH testing before abolishing the same. Lets follow the rules of logic, and not rush to judgement.

By Peter Schaffer  |  05:32 PM ET, 09/20/2011

 
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