Professional athletes are under a lot of pressure to perform at their best each and every game. Some athletes choose to use illegal substances such as steroids to get ahead of the competition. Other times, athletes begin to stand head and shoulders above the rest, then feel pressured to maintain their legendary status by turning to illegal substances.
Baseball player Andy Pettitte of the New York Yankees claims none of the above reasons for his use of the human growth hormone. Instead, he insists he was trying to speed up his body’s healing process after injuring his elbow in 2002. The human growth hormone is naturally produced in the body, but synthetic injections of HGH have been shown to speed up cell regeneration.
Pettitte further tried to explain his use of the human growth hormone in a release made to the Associated Press after details of his use emerged in the 2007 Mitchell Report. “I felt an obligation to get back to my team as soon as possible. For this reason, and only this reason, for two days I tried human growth hormone…I wasn’t looking for an edge. I was looking to heal.”
The Mitchell Report (fronted by Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell) was the result of a 21 month long investigation into the use of performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. Released on December 31st, 2007, it names 89 MLB players who allegedly used performance enhancing drugs while playing in the Major League. Huge names like Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds were outed in this report.
The use of the human growth hormone for the enhancement of athletic performance is not only prohibited by the MLB, it’s illegal. There are very specific restrictions on the use of the human growth hormone. Whoever prescribed Pettitte his HGH (or himself, if he self-prescribed) technically could face criminal charges.
Fortunately for Pettitte those charges were not filed, however, it’s very likely he’s lost his chance at entering the Baseball Hall of Fame. Pettitte has tried to rationalize his behavior, though some don’t buy his story. “This is it – two days out of my life; two days out of my entire career, when I was injured and on the disabled list.”
This summer, the New York Yankees will retire the number of Pettitte’s jersey, an honor that only the true baseball greats receive. It’s not the Hall of Fame, but it is a sign that his contribution to Major League Baseball was greater than his fall from grace. “What an honor. … I’m just so fortunate to have played for the organization [which] put me around such great players every year [with] an opportunity to win. “, said Pettitte while on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN New York 98.7.
Despite his illegal use of the human growth hormone, New York Yankee’s number 46 will forever belong to Andy Pettitte while other great players who used performance enhancing drugs have been publicly shamed, fined, and even banned.