It may seem an easy problem to remedy, but in fact the question of testing for HGH in professional sports is proving to be a thorny issue. Many who are not familiar with it may be left to scratch their heads over one report after another from the NFL, the NBA, and other sports that are having trouble establishing an HGH testing program that is effective, valid, and reliable. A good HGH testing program helped Major League Baseball establish a tough stance on illegal performance enhancement, and the Olympics have one of the best testing systems in the world. So what’s the hangup with testing in other professional sports? Here’s the rundown.
- It’s a blood test. Unlike most testing in sports that require the athlete to submit a urine sample, to test for HGH requires a blood sample. Why? It’s because HGH in the bloodstream is 100 times more concentrated than in urine. In order to subject professional athletes to a blood test, the issues of obtaining the sample and handling the blood once it is drawn, plus there’s the matter of addressing the concerns that a blood test is invasive.
- There is no baseline for acceptable levels of HGH in the body for comparison, since your body already has HGH naturally. In order for there to be an effective blood test for HGH, there has to be an established baseline to compare samples against. However, the level of HGH within the body may vary depending on age, size, and other factors, so there is the possibility that the baseline would need to be set at a higher level, and many have questioned whether athletes who do take HGH would always test under the baseline if it is set too high.
- There are questions over the blood test’s validity. One of the arguments used by Player’s Associations is this: since a reliable test has not been established, how is the validity going to be established? Others argue that this is just an attempt to stall making a testing decision, as the Olympic and Major League Baseball tests have clearly proven to be valid.
- HGH is only detectable in the body for an extremely short duration. Once a person injects themselves with HGH, which is often the preferred method for athletes who are using HGH as a performance enhancer, the HGH is detectable in the system for only 2.5 hours, and all traces of it are gone within a day. This makes catching the HGH use difficult.
It looks like many of the major sports will be taking longer to deal with the HGH testing issue than they had originally hoped. As more research is done, more questions arise. The bottom line is that many want to establish a fair, reliable, and accurate testing program, and if it takes extra time to do it right, maybe that’s the best route to take.