HGH Testing May Be Difficult to Implement

February 26, 2010

Lance Pugmire of the LA Times reports on the latest development in the anti-doping world regarding a new test capable of detecting human growth hormone in blood samples. Early this week it was announced that a British rugby player had tested positive for the previously undetectable banned substance. However, while promising, the jury is still out as to whether the test will make its way to the North American sports world any time soon.

Yet, as the NFL and Major League Baseball push to institute blood-testing programs to unearth HGH users, how Newton dealt with his positive result is unlikely to be repeated any time soon in the U.S., where the test is not automatically accepted by American athletes — and their advisors — as indisputable proof.

 

“This guy [Newton] just said, ‘OK, you caught me,’ but a major league baseball player will never do that,” said Victor Conte, founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) who was briefly imprisoned for distributing performance-enhancing drugs to world-class athletes, including sprinter Marion Jones, boxer Shane Mosley and the personal trainer of baseball slugger Barry Bonds.

 

“I know the anti-doping authorities are painting this as a big victory, but this doesn’t prove the test is reliable and valid,” Conte said. “That will only occur in a court of law, after the player, supported by a team of scientists and lawyers, takes his turn.”

 

Nevertheless, authorities such as World Anti-Doping Agency Director General David Howman assessed Newton’s positive (secured by the United Kingdom Anti-Doping agency) as a reason for the world’s sporting bodies to increase blood testing — especially out of competition — to catch those who have “been using this substance with no impunity for a number of years.”

 

The NFL this year told its players union of its interest in testing for HGH.

 

“Our position is that HGH blood testing has advanced to the point where we are taking steps to incorporate it into our program,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. “Blood work is part of our players’ annual physical. We do have mandatory blood testing already.”

 

An NFL Players Assn. representative has said “there’s no reason” to implement blood testing at this time, but Aiello said a request by the league to do so can be done “between now and training camp,” in advance of collective-bargaining sessions, with the opportunity to have testing in place before the 2010 season.

 

“The argument that there’s no longer a valid test no longer holds water,” said Dr. Gary Wadler, chairman of WADA’s prohibited list. “There’s now a positive, the test is commercially produced. There’s no excuses to hide from testing anymore, and the pressure is on all sports leagues to implement blood testing.

 

“The fact is there’s a way to detect HGH now and even if lawyers try to pick apart at it, or people say they didn’t take it, we can now find out. This is the wake-up call.”

Payout Perspective:

This is great news for the sports world as a whole – especially the Olympic movement – but we’re probably a long way from seeing its impact on the sport of MMA (or boxing for that matter).

The current testing standards employed by most commissions range anywhere from average to woefully inadequate (depending on who you ask). Critics claim the limited breadth and frequency of the testing gives savvy cheaters enough time to cycle off most of the higher end drugs. Thus, the entire testing system would need a complete overhaul before an HGH test could even be implemented; and that says nothing about, at this point, the questionable legitimacy of the testing results.

So, what might need to happen, exactly, before HGH is testable in MMA? First, and foremost, the industry as a whole would need to fully commit to ridding combat sports of performance enhancing drugs; without buy-in from the commissions and biggest promotions, nothing will happen.

Then, from an operational perspective, you’d likely need a global body to organize, coordinate, and implement the testing. The financial implications of that, of course, are quite steep: testing isn’t cheap, especially when you consider the frequency with which fighters, who train all over the world, would have to submit in order to ensure their clean form. Moreover, who is going to pay for that, and why?

Lastly, the issue of compliance is also important; as much as the commissions/promotions would need to buy-in, so would the fighters. There would need to be a little bit of a culture change in the way people in the industry not only submit for testing, but handle those that don’t.

7 Responses to “HGH Testing May Be Difficult to Implement”

  1. jj on February 26th, 2010 10:12 AM

    This really needs to happen. Urine testing doesn’t detect all kinds of PEDs and the masking agents people use to conceal their use.

    Some commissions brag about how they have out of competition testing, but the fact of the matter is very few athletes have actually been tested in these programs. It is mostly an illusion.

    The problem is when big name fighters test positive it really hurts the bottom line of the promoter and in the end, does the promoter want clean athletes or a bigger payday?

    What kind of costs are we actually talking here? Is this information freely available considering it is a commercially made test?

    If everyone in the industry was serious about fighter safety this should be implemented at least for the UFC where athletes are competing at the highest level, because some athletes look for any edge they can get.

    Steroids might not matter if your banging a baseball over a fence, but when your job is punching someone in the face, we should take this seriously.

  2. Jose Mendoza on February 26th, 2010 10:32 AM

    Due to boxing ( Pac-Man vs PBF), this may impact MMA sooner than later. Interesting part of article is Keith Kizer’s quote:

    “Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, said he doesn’t “know where this leads,” after a dispute over blood testing led to the cancellation of next month’s scheduled Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight in Las Vegas.

    “This is a pleasant development and something we’ll take great interest in,” Kizer said.”

  3. Brain Smasher on February 27th, 2010 3:32 AM

    HGH is what will turn MMA on its head or at very least cause there to be a changing of the guard os far as the best fighters go. I have always believed Anobolic roids havent been the issue in the UFC and some other shows. It has been HGH ever since commissions started testing. I have seen first hand guys i train with out of nowhere change physically. Not just in muscle and ability but bone structure. Guys who were lcky to be 160 lbs soaking wet were now on a body frame that was 15 lbs bigger. This happen when he went to another gym and trained with a few UFC fighters. One of my workout partners when to Brazil with a then UFC fighter to sharpen up on his BJJ. He come back contemplating wether to take HGH. That tells me he got down there and realized what all the big names are doing. I advised against it because he was a marginal MMA fighter naturally at that point. Taking HGH may help but would it be worth it if he still never got to the next level? That was my way of looking at it.

    I would say just about every top fighter is using HGH. But the problem is from the little info i know about HGH there really isnt much negative effects unless you take to much and get HGH gut like Monson.and some body builders. A lot of people consider this like a wonder drug. Then you have the debate of what a performance enhancer is. Anything is a performance enhancer. Eye contacts, vitamens, protien powder, the enegy drink to help you get through a work out, or pain killers like tylenol to get through the injuries. If there is not legit negative effects from the use of HGH, should it be banned?

  4. teee on February 28th, 2010 3:17 AM

    brain smasher for once i agree with ya….i believe that there should be testing on hgh for the sport to go global…brock lesnar is a heavyweight champ but just his facial big forehead and arms are just not natural lookin…an gives the sport an illegit name..not to metion he was arrested on steroid possesion years back…if they implement blood testing.most ufc guys would test positive…it would hurt the sport for a while but it would strengthen it in the future…one step backward two steps forward

  5. Brain Smasher on March 1st, 2010 2:32 AM

    I would say Brocks forehead is is proof. Im sure he is and was doing roids and HGH but i would go so far as to point ount any one effect of PEs because most off effects are found in people naturally. Large Forehead, acne, etc. Although its rampant in the UFC imo. Its worse in other promotions because less strict testing adds anobolic steroids on top of HGH. Testing or not testing has nothing to do with the future of the sport. To suggest the sport will be held back would mean that the rest of the world is testing and negative attention is brought on the UFC for not testing. That simply isnt the case. no one is testing. Like the article above says the one current test we have now has everyone skeptical of its effectiveness and practicality.

  6. Brain Smasher on March 1st, 2010 2:41 AM

    edit for typo’s.

    I wouldnt say Brocks forehead is proof. Im sure he is and was doing roids and HGH but i wouldnt go so far as to point out any one effect of PEs because most effects are found in people naturally. Large Forehead, acne, etc. Although its rampant in the UFC imo. Its worse in other promotions because less strict testing adds anobolic steroids on top of HGH. Testing or not testing has nothing to do with the future of the sport. To suggest the sport will be held back would mean that the rest of the world is testing and negative attention is brought on the UFC for not testing. That simply isnt the case. no one is testing. Like the article above says the one current test we have now has everyone skeptical of its effectiveness and practicality. The UFC should only test if the majority of other sports leagues test. Also testing is done by the commission which the UFC has no control over. Outside of the US most countries dont even test for steroids let alone HGH. So how does MMA need testing to go global if many outside the US
    dont even have tests for anything?

  7. uberVU - social comments on March 1st, 2010 4:13 AM

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