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MJD

HGH blood testing in the NFL: Do we really want this?

MJD
Shutdown Corner

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Some rugby player got popped for using human growth hormone, and everyone's all excited about it. Not because anyone cares about the rugby player, but because it was a brand new blood test that got him caught.

The thinking is that now that we have a way to test for HGH (proven by the case of the rugby doper), the NFL and other American sports leagues will adopt the same testing method.

Maybe the NFL should, since its current policy is a little weird: HGH is banned, but the NFL doesn't test for it. That's a little like the police announcing tomorrow, "We still consider stealing cars illegal, but we're not really going to investigate it anymore. Let's just hope for the best, gang."

As you might imagine, the NFL and the NFL Players Association, still see it differently. Greg Aiello, the NFL's senior vice president of public relations, said this (via the Washington Post's Mark Maske):

"Our position is that HGH blood-testing has advanced to the point where we are taking steps to incorporate it into our program."

And George Atallah, a player's union guy, said this:

"At this point, there's no reason to believe that blood-testing for NFL players will or should be implemented. We should instead focus on preserving the drug-testing policy that we have in place."

Here's a devil's advocate take: Where exactly is the upside for the NFL in HGH blood testing? Earnest Graham once guesstimated that 30 percent of the NFL is using HGH. For the sake of argument, let's say he's right. Do we really want to take 30 percent of the players off the field right now?

I won't pretend to be an expert on the substance, but my understanding is that its main use is to help injuries heal faster, in return, getting players back on the field faster. Is that a bad thing? Is it beneficial to the NFL to have its stars sitting on the sideline for longer periods of time?

And what if HGH use is genuinely helping the long-term health of NFL players? We've seen the hell that an NFL career can wreak on a body over a period of time. If HGH can help protect and heal joints and muscles long-term, don't we owe it to the guys in this brutal profession to let them have this?

Of course, I realize that there are countless other arguments to be made, and again, this is a devil's advocate point of view. But I do think there's an argument to be made that the NFL's optimum position on this might be exactly what it has right now: for the sake of PR, condemn it and wag your fingers at it, but also maintain that there's nothing you can do about it.

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