Jansen's HGH Claim Defended, Disputed

Coach Joe Gibbs said he
Coach Joe Gibbs said he "could not imagine" players taking banned substances given the NFL's random-testing efforts. "It doesn't make any sense," he said. (By Joel Richardson -- The Washington Post)
By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 8, 2006

Several Washington Redskins agreed yesterday with teammate Jon Jansen's statement that NFL players are experimenting with human growth hormone, although some in the Redskins organization took exception with Jansen's contention that "maybe 15, 20 percent" of the league is taking some form of banned performance-enhancing substance.

Jansen made his claim in an interview with Bob Costas that aired on HBO's "Costas Now" on Wednesday night. Jansen, a seventh-year tackle and the longest-tenured player on the Redskins' roster, reiterated his stance yesterday when addressing the media, but he backed off his estimate of the percentage of players who are cheating. He said that his math was poor and that he meant to imply only that "a small number" of players were doing so.

Ten Redskins said they shared Jansen's sentiment.

"I wouldn't put anything past some guys," running back Ladell Betts said. "If you can get away with it, I'm sure some guys would try it. It's very competitive in this league, trying to keep your job, and once you bring the money into the equation you never know what somebody will do."

Center Casey Rabach said, "If there's ways for guys to cheat -- with as much money that's out there and the fame and glory that's possible -- guys are going to take shortcuts and try to cheat."

Jansen's comments on HBO were mentioned in a letter that Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), the ranking minority member of the House Government Reform Committee and a force behind last year's hearings on drug use in Major League Baseball, sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday, urging him to reexamine the league's drug policy.

"The combination of these reports about the abuse of performance-enhancing drugs in the NFL shows that there are still important lessons to be learned for the league, including how the NFL drug testing program could have failed to detect this use of banned substances," the letter said. "I hope that the NFL will make every effort to learn these lessons and apply them to a new and more effective policy to rid the league of performance-enhancing drugs."

Greg Aiello, the NFL's vice president of public relations, said in a statement: "We look forward to continuing our discussions with Congressman Waxman, Chairman [Thomas M.] Davis [R-Va.] and the committee staff. We are committed to continuing to have the best program in sports."

Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs praised the league's random-testing efforts, and said that he "could not imagine" players taking banned substances under those circumstances. "It doesn't make any sense," he said. Before the start of training camp, the Redskins bring in a specialist to brief the players on all types of supplements and drugs, both legal and banned, and the team reinforces that message whenever possible.

"What [the specialist] pointed out to everybody is that a large portion of those things are detectable," Gibbs said. "And every player here is responsible for what he puts in his body. I don't care what it is."

None of the Redskins interviewed yesterday said that he had tried HGH or known any NFL player using it. In the HBO interview, Jansen said that while recovering from a season-ending Achilles' injury in 2004, he was approached with the opportunity to take illegal substances to aid his recovery, but that he had declined.

Yesterday, Jansen said the incident occurred "outside Redskins Park" and was in no way related to the Redskins organization. Jansen declined to name anyone he suspected of using HGH, but said that after seven seasons in the league on a team with consistent roster turnover, players know who has a reputation for cheating.

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