Controversy Over Human Growth Hormone in Sports Continues

The NFL is considering testing players for human growth hormone (HGH). The NFL Players Association is still debating this issue because of the need for reliable tests.

Syringe and vial.
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However, this is not the first time that human growth hormone has caused controversy in professional sports.

Human Growth Hormone

Human growth hormone is found naturally in the body and stimulates cell reproduction. It is a powerful anabolic that has been isolated and used for multiple purposes. There are treatments approved by the FDA that use HGH for individuals who lack a sufficient amount of the hormone. However, HGH has been abused by athletes for decades.

Sports and HGH

Athletes initially began using human growth hormone because it was impossible to detect during doping tests. Although tests are now available to detect it, HGH provides many benefits and is still used. HGH increases muscle strength, while reducing fatigue and recovery time. It has also been linked to better performance, the prevention of injuries and faster tissue growth.

Side Effects

There are many side effects that athletes often neglect to consider as they abuse the human growth hormone. The organs can grow beyond their normal size. Additionally, cardiovascular issues are common, and the risk of cancers increases. Some athletes have also developed diabetes and serious joint problems.

Abuse and Detection

In 2002, a federal investigation revealed the BALCO scandal. The laboratory was accused of supplying HGH and other drugs to professional baseball players including Barry Bonds. In 2004, a test for the hormone was used at the Olympic Games for the first time. Tests for the detection of human growth hormone in the body continue to be developed.

Companies have been accused of targeting athletes during the Super Bowl, Olympic Games and other major events. Coaches or trainers are no longer the only people going after athletes as pharmaceutical businesses realize the potential for marketing. The promise of more strength and less fatigue is alluring. The synthetic version of HGH has become very popular and easy to produce.

The NFL and HGH

The NFL Players Association is fighting the use of doping tests for HGH by noting that the tests are not always accurate. However, the organization may run into some difficulties proving this point. A new test was recently developed, and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is excited about its potential. If the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) approves the test, the NFL will have a hard time finding a reason not to use it.

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Lana has a B.S. degree in Biology and Chemistry. She is an avid athlete, youth coach and follows several sports.

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Updated Monday, Oct 17, 2011