The NBA now joins the list of major sports organizations that require human growth hormone blood testing. Starting in 2015-2016, during training camp this fall, all NBA players will be subjected to three tests, each one random.
If a player were to test positive for human growth hormone, there is a 20 game suspension penalty for a first offense. If there is a second offense, then it’s a 45 game suspension. If a player tests positive for HGH for a third time, they are immediately disqualified from the NBA for life. These are clearly very severe punishments for the use of HGH. Both the owners and players agreed in 2011 to figure out a process for how to test for HGH. The NBA has never previously done blood testing. The typical drug test is a urine test.
Not only are the blood tests random, but two of them will be done in-season. The third test will be done randomly off-season to be absolutely certain that athletes are not using HGH at any time to boost their performance. The testing is not limited to these three random tests, however. It can also be done if there is a reasonable cause to suspect that a player is using the human growth hormone.
Performance enhancing drugs have always been a topic of discussion in the NBA. Though they aren’t as prevalent in basketball as they are in other sports (such as baseball, cycling or golf), there are still a few players who have been suspended after testing positive for various types of steroids. Nick Calathes of the Grizzlies, Hedo Turkoglu of the Clippers and Rashard Lewis of the Miami Heat have all been suspended due to the use of performance enhancing drugs.
Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, denies that the NBA has a steroid problem. While this may be true, the overall feeling in the NBA towards performance enhancing drugs is mild at best. Mark Cuban, owner of the Mavericks, has come out in favor of allowing NBA players to use HGH as long as it’s in the proper context. “Working together could lead us from the path of demonizing HGH and even testosterone towards a complete understanding. It could allow us to make a data based decision rather than the emotional decision we are currently making. And if it can help athletes recover more quickly, maybe we can extend careers and have healthier happier players and fans,” Cuban told USA Today Sports in an interview.
If the NBA and its players want to see the league stay clean, testing for human growth hormone is a step in the right direction. The severity of the penalties will hopefully make an effective deterrent against using the human growth hormone to enhance the physical strength and stamina of the players.
Each player will be tested three different times annually, making the testing fair to all players and thorough enough to satisfy the league owners. Now the NBA and the world will wait and see what kinds of results come from testing for HGH across the league.