The owner of a very prominent Pro Basketball team intends to fund some research into human Growth Hormone, the emphasis being on whether it could help injured players recover quicker from injury. The move is spurred by the fact that several of the team’s players, and indeed pros NBA wide, have been sidelined for long periods of time due to injury.
In light of the recent decision by the National Football League to start testing its players for synthetic growth hormone, it seems rather strange that such a high profile person should buck the current trend.
To be clear, the owner in question is not suggesting the use of currently banned substances for performance enhancement, but saying it’s definitely worth looking into – especially in a clinical study capacity – to determine whether the substance can be applied in a controlled and safe manner to help people recover.
Old Debate Refreshed
My first reaction wasn’t good.
After thinking about it, I’m more along the lines of this is exactly what pro sports needs…in a way.
Instead of the negative outcomes from conjecture, accusations and huge, high profile court cases making the sport headlines, it makes a nice change to see someone stepping up and saying ‘let’s just look into it further.’
It’s a good move, because it completely refreshes the whole debate on substance use and gives it a spin that makes you wonder if a balance can be struck between abuse of a performance enhancer and medically controlled use of it as an injury treatment.
Performance Enhancement versus Injury Recovery
Where do we draw the line? That’s the immediate question. It’s one thing testing players across the board for performance enhancers that shouldn’t be there, but if the same or similar substances were allowed for injury recovery purposes then the NBA and all other professional sports organizations that adopt it are going to have to prepare for a mother-load of red tape to fight through.
Banned for performance enhancement but legal for treatment of certain injures; good luck getting a consensus on that one!
Two Steps Forward
Like I said; at least someone wants to do something to figure out the performance enhancing drug quandary. Perhaps it’s worth it just for the amount of pure research that will come out of a pre-emptive move like this.
There may even be positive impacts on the medical application of growth hormone as a whole. Hell, they shouldn’t stop there, let’s re-open the book on steroids as well.
No-one ever said some of these drugs didn’t have the potential to be useful and relatively safe in small doses on a short term basis. After all, what’s worse: a blown AC ligament and a career stopped in its tracks, or a few short-term side effects from drugs?
Well, that’s a question only the research can answer.
Jumping on the Bandwagon
There’s always the issue of regulation, in my opinion. Doctors currently face heavy penalties for prescribing HGH to anyone, save for a handful of uses, and if there is a whiff of it being off-label (i.e. not for intended purpose), then they are in deep trouble.
If the research results in a green light for HGH treatment then every doctor gets to sign off on its use. We’ve already seen the cases of dodgy docs prescribing ‘roids off-label to famous sports players, but give them a wishy-washy law to back them up (because it will be super wishy-washy at first) and we’re back to square uno.
And what are the implications with other professions? Say, for example, a construction worker gets injured and the doctor thinks he’ll be back on his feet quicker and earning money for his family again if he prescribes a short course of HGH?
What if a guy tears a muscle pushing too hard in the gym?
If they determine that it’s safe to use growth hormone, then is shouldn’t matter, should it?
Regardless of what might occur, I still think it’s a good thing that someone is willing to fund research into treatment with HGH. I just hope the research remains completely objective and doesn’t take into account the people funding it, or what their underlying motives might be.
To be honest, I don’t think any of the owners in the national American sports leagues would just benevolently throw money at research without seeing some kind of financial return.
The obvious outcome is that HGH does help injured players recover quicker and lets them get back to what they do best, and that’s earning their pay checks.
Every team owner wants that, but do they want something else as well? And will they open a can of jacked-up worms in doing so?