Amidst a National Football League lockout, NFLPA union disbanding, and an anti-trust suit brought against the NFL by MVP players Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, fans have one more piece of drama to digest—players may face human growth hormone (HGH) testing. As players and managers debate the details of the next NFL labor deal, the kickoff of the United States most beloved sport remains in jeopardy—sidelined because parties can’t agree on how to distribute the $9 billion in profits and whether the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) will be allowed to drug test players, amongst other contentious details.
In the minds of sports fans, HGH may conjure images of 13 officers swarming Arizona Diamond back pitcher Jason Grimsley’s house in 2006 after the IRS caught him accepting an illegal package of HGH in the mail. The scandal led to a crackdown on drug use in Major League Baseball. After indicating several other players who used drugs, Grimsley revealed amphetamine use was so prevalent in baseball that coffee pots would be marked as “leaded” or “unleaded” allowing players to decide how to take their morning cup of joe. Due to this case and others like it, many professional leagues, as well as the International Olympic Committee and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, have banned HGH. The NFL remains one of the last leagues to get serious about testing.
Football players are some of the largest athletes of any professional sports team. Many players tip the scale at 300 lbs and some seek help to tack on pounds to remain competitive. Players including Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason, are not thrilled with the HGH provision. Meanwhile other players such as New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, welcome a more even playing field.
In a sport that is so physically wearing, it wouldn’t be surprising for WADA to find users. HGH increases cell growth—building muscle, bone and collagen – which helps players recover from injuries. HGH even increases skin thickness, creating fortresses out of men. Although HGH occurs naturally in the body, the synthetic form can be detected in a blood test. Currently, HGH is only available in prescription form. Patients that take medical grade HGH include children with growth problems, adults with poor bone and muscle mass and HIV patients experiencing tissue loss. The FDA has also approved the use of growth hormone to increase the milk production of cows.
NBJ Bottom Line:
Supplement companies sell a variety of HGH precursors. Although selling precursors is legal, selling actual growth hormone is a felony and can land unauthorized sellers for up to 5 to 10 years. Some consumers take HGH precursor supplements to increase muscle mass, however, many also take them to slow the aging process and the natural loss of muscle mass. These supplements are sold as capsules, powders, lozenges and mouth sprays. HGH precursors often combine amino acids and peptides. Packaging directions advise consumers to take supplements before bedtime, when the pituitary gland is most active and has the greatest chance of encouraging the release of the body’s natural hormones. HGH precursors on the market include NOW Food’s IGF-1, SciFit’s GHT Stack, HumanoGrowth from Labrada, and ISS Research’s HGH Promino Plus IGF-1, among others.
Negative publicity of HGH surrounding NFL drug testing may decrease sales slightly; however, these precursor supplements are unlikely to disappear because of the benefits of taking HGH from a general health standpoint. Baby boomers wishing to curb the loss of muscle mass and women looking to increase bone density as they age are the major consumers of these products. Furthermore, smack downs in other sports, such as baseball, have not stopped supplement manufacturers from making and selling HGH precursors successfully.