When you hear about HGH in sports, you might think of super-jacked baseball players with heads that have grown three sizes since their rookie years, blasting 450-foot home runs every other at-bat.
But HGH permeates the sports world. Athletes in many sports have been busted trying to cheat with HGH. And when you compare the relatively wispy players of yesteryear with the linebacker-sized guys on some of these teams, there is at least some reason to wonder if everyone is on the up-and-up.
The NBA does have a drug testing program, but that is considered weak when it comes to performance-enhancing standards. That is why the NBA has been pushing for HGH testing for some time now.
While reports back in March that the NBA and the Players' Union were close to a deal on HGH testing were premature, CBS Sports' Ken Berger reports the league hopes to have a deal in place very soon..
With Major League Baseball suspending Brewers slugger Ryan Braun for violating the sport's drug policy -- and with more suspensions expected to emerge from the Biogenesis case in South Florida -- the NBA's efforts to implement testing for human-growth hormone (HGH) in time for next season is paramount among the off-court business that will be conducted between now and the '13-'14 tipoff.
"We hope so," Stern said last Thursday in Las Vegas, when asked if HGH testing protocols could be negotiated with the National Basketball Players Association in time to be implemented for next season. Stern also said the process was "hamstrung" by the NBPA's lack of a permanent executive director in the wake of Billy Hunter's ouster over findings that he failed to properly manage conflicts of interest during his tenure.
Simply being in amazing physical condition is not a reason to suspect anyone. Their job is to prepare themselves to play basketball for at least seven months, and possibly 10. They have little else to do between the time they wake up and the time they go to sleep.
The difference between the physiques of players past and present can be mostly attributed to the new advances in technology and nutrition, as well as sophisticated facilities in which the team can practice and work out. The strength and conditioning coach is a relatively new position on teams, and Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers has joked about teams back in his day not having their own gyms, and players never suffering injuries like strained abdominals.
But wherever fortune and fame exist, there exists a desire to take whatever means necessary to achieve them.
It could be from a great player who wants to become an immortal, or from a fringe player who is looking for a few years of guaranteed millions as an eighth man. So it is in the NBA's best interests to create as stringent a system as it can to make sure the greats of this era aren't saddled with asterisks for the rest of their lives.
Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa are now symbols of rampant cheating in baseball. The NBA and its players should do what they can to make sure none of today's stars suffer the same fate.
We would be naive to think no one in the NBA cheats (see suspensions to Rashard Lewis, O.J. Mayo and Hedo Turkoglu in the past three seasons). The odds say someone is doing something unnatural to achieve some level of success in the NBA. The sooner those types of players are weeded out, the better.
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