Use of Human Growth Hormone by Baseball Players
It is indisputable that majority of us wish to be rich and successful. And we will gladly accept any help we can get on the way towards achieving that goal. We may say so it is with baseball players. The lure of big contracts has made many to seek all sorts of advantages, even when unfair, to boost their career. This is what led to the use of steroids, which have been in use for several decades.
Human growth hormone (HGH) now appears to be the substance of choice for these athletes. Why is this so? This piece will help to comprehensively answer that question.
Brief information on HGH
Growth hormone is a protein-based hormone that is produced and secreted by the pituitary gland in the head. We need this substance to promote good overall health. It helps with cell reproduction and is key to physical growth. HGH deficiency, especially in the young, can have serious consequences on growth and development.
It was in order to deal effectively with the problem of medical deficiency that scientist developed recombinant or synthetic HGH. But following the release of some research findings starting from the early 90s, many people took to these injections, even when they do not have very low hGH levels in their body. These people, including athletes, were more interested in the off-label benefits of HGH (somatropin).
HGH use in baseball
Over the years, a number of baseball players in America have been associated to the use of growth hormone. Why do they do this? The natural production of the substance in the body declines as people get older. This is said to lead to a variety of aging signs, including loss of lean muscle mass and weight gain. You could then see why many people use them for purposes that are not approved by the FDA.
The hormone helps to speed up your metabolism, helping to break down fat and increasing muscle mass. It is a reason many young people look attractive and pleasing to the eye and why bodybuilders take it. Baseball players also love it, partly, because of this. HGH gives them better body build and enables them to hit or throw harder. It increases strength and boosts energy levels as well.
Another key motive baseball players use the substance is for faster recovery. It is believed to speed up healing of injuries. This is because growth hormone helps to repair and regenerate damaged muscles and body tissues. So if an injured player were to take them, HGH injections could radically cut down the length of time that would be needed for healing.
It is based on this background that many sports organizations, including the MLB, prohibit HGH use by their athletes. They feel it grants undue advantage.
Discouraging HGH use by baseball players
Professional baseball treats growth hormone the same way as steroids and other performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). About a decade ago, the MLB reached an agreement with its players’ union on improved drug testing standards. The deal stipulated that the league can randomly select players for drug testing. Any player that tested positive three times for a banned substance, such as HGH, was to be banned for life.
However, as is the case with the NFL, the MLB has not been successful with its testing for growth hormone. The league doesn’t appear to have a reliable testing procedure for the substance yet. Standard urine tests are not very likely to catch anyone cheating with HGH. Some even say the MLB can never bust any player with its testing method.
Practically all players linked to the hormone either confessed or were discovered through third-party investigations. It is believed that the number of those taking the substance is on the rise for this reason.
A report by former US Senator George Mitchell years ago revealed more than 90 players suspected of using HGH and/or other drugs. But the league’s focus had been more on steroids at the time – this still appears to be the case. Lawmakers believed the MLB has not been very proactive about guarding against HGH use. According to them, everyone in the game is to be blame for this. Some lawmakers suggested collecting samples from players now for future testing when a more reliable procedure comes into use.
Professional players linked to HGH use
A number of players have confessed to using, or revealed to have possibly used, growth hormone for performance enhancement. Some of them can be found below. These reportedly got their supply from former New York Mets bat boy and club attendant Kirk Radomski.
Self-declared “Godfather of Steroids” Jose Canseco and trainer Brian McNamee claimed this legendary Red Sox pitcher took human growth hormone. He was said to have taken it along with several other popular steroids, including Winstrol and Deca-Durabolin, during the 1998, 2000 and 2001 seasons of the MLB. Clemens supposedly got his supply indirectly from Radomski via McNamee. He was said to have refused to be interviewed for the Mitchell Report, being active at the time.
According to the report, Gagne received two HGH kits from Radomski. The latter even provided a receipt for the shipment. The Red Sox and Dodgers were accused of being aware of possible use of PEDs by the player.
The case of this Diamondbacks pitcher brought significant attention to the use of growth hormone by baseball players. Starting from 2003, authorities kept tab on Grimsley after failing a drug test in that year. Law enforcement later seized a season’s worth of HGH supply meant for him while in transit. Radomski showed evidence that the player bought growth hormone, steroids and diet pills worth more than $35,000 from 2000 to 2005. The pitcher was compelled to cooperate with authorities, with this leading to opening of a can of worms. He revealed some players who used and/or supplied PEDs and that Mexico was the major source of these substances.
This is another player that was active at the time of the report and linked to using HGH. Radomski provided a check for a $3,200 transaction involving sale of two HGH kits to Bennett. As with many other suspected players, the latter declined to a request for an interview.
It was also reported that Howie Clark got 4-5 kits of growth hormone from the infamous Mets bat body. As evidence, Radomski produced two money orders for a total of $1,200 for a purchase.
Jerry Hairston, Jr.
This MLB player got performance enhancing drugs, including HGH, from Ana Maria Santi, going by DEA investigation. It was found that Hairston got the Genotropin brand of human growth hormone along with other drugs. Radomski was said to have produced a check received for an HGH purchase.
Pitcher Andy Pettitte admitted to using HGH while playing with the New York Yankees, following the Mitchell Report’s release. He was with the Houston Astros at the time. Radomski claimed to have personally injected the player with the substance up to four times while undergoing rehabilitation for an elbow injury.
Dangers of HGH use in baseball
Concerned individuals, including lawmakers, are worried about the greater danger that growth hormone uses by pro baseball players pose. These athletes expose themselves to severe health hazards from the abuse of the substance. But the greater danger in all of this, perhaps, is the message that most younger athletes may get: there’s nothing wrong about using growth hormone to step up to the good life. This places their health on the line in the process. And it doesn’t look like professional baseball is doing much to serve as deterrence to other players, including amateurs.
Many young people are under immense pressure to make it big in baseball. It is not uncommon seeing parents pushing their children to become successful in the game. And it is easy to see why with all the money floating around. This pressure could cause these young players to experiment with different substances, including growth hormone. You may be surprised to learn the pressure is starting to tell even on kids playing elementary school baseball.
Based on the situation of things, some have come to the conclusion that the MLB will never be able to stop the use of PEDs. Players will always use performance enhancing substances come what may. Growth hormone, in particular, defies all the professional league is doing to catch cheats. There is hardly any player that has been caught through the traditional testing procedure.
Maybe that will change some time in the future. But for now, players using human growth hormone are seemingly having a field day. Unless discovered through investigation, especially by law enforcement agents, they practically do not need to worry about being caught. There is also no sufficient deterrence at present to discourage the use of the hormone. This puts the health of many young people in danger.