Tag: Steroids

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Report: NBA, union near deal to allow HGH testing


The NBA needs to be testing for human growth hormone. Ask around the league and the first response of most people is that performance-enhancing drugs are not an issue in the NBA. I tend to be skeptical the league is that clean. But if it is or isn’t, there has to be testing.

And there will be soon, reports Henry Abbot at ESPN.

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are close to an agreement to test players’ blood for human growth hormone (HGH), according to sources with direct knowledge of the talks. Testing could begin as soon as the 2013-14 season.

David Stern has said before he expected HGH blood testing of players to happen within the next year.

Of course, the NBA has banned HGH for years, the problem has been it’s a blood test (nobody likes having blood drawn) and there were questions of the test’s reliability. But that is changing and putting pressure on the league to change, Abbott said.

But those concerns have eroded lately, sources say, with a frenzy of progress in talks between the league and union. A decisive factor: Major League Baseball and its respected union have agreed to blood tests for HGH, weakening the basketball union’s claims that the test was unreliable or that blood testing is too invasive.

Part of the challenge in getting this put together is former players union head Billy Hunter has been suspended, is expected to sue the league, and no replacement has been found. The union is a bit of a mess right now.

There are details to be worked out — is this blood test in addition to or replacing one of the six random urine tests players take a year? Will the test look just for HGH or other things as well?

The conventional wisdom has long been that steroids and PEDs are not prevalent in the NBA because being muscle-bound is not a real advantage. I don’t buy it — what HGH or designer steroids can do is help with recovery, and that is something NBA players could use. To bounce back quicker after a workout, or during the long seasons with four games in five nights at times, speeding recovery would be huge.

And frankly, there are people that will break the rules to get a shot at the money, fame and perks of an NBA lifestyle. To think some wouldn’t cross that line seems naïve to me.

Hopefully the testing will show I’m wrong, or at least expose the wrongdoers.

Rose denies saying PEDs a “huge” NBA problem

Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls - Game Two

UPDATE 2:55 pm: Through a Bulls spokesman, Rose has denied saying that PEDs are a huge NBA issue. He said that the question was phrased differently, more along the lines of how big a problem would it be if the NBA were rampant with steroids.

Just having been around the league, this is not an issue that really comes up. That doesn’t mean it’s not an issue, and that some players aren’t using, but there is a lot of testing by the league and it just does not feel rampant.

We will update as the story develops.


1:15 pm: The conventional wisdom has been that performance enhancing drugs have not been an issue in the NBA — bulk strength is not considered as important as speed in the NBA, and there have only been a couple of guys who have tested positive for anything on the banned list (O.J. Mayo of the Memphis Grizzlies had a 10-game suspension at the start of this season).

But the league’s MVP Derrick Rose tells ESPN Magazine that performance enhancing drugs are a “huge” problem in the NBA and one the league needs to get more serious about. (via the IB Times of San Francisco and CBS Sports Eye On Basketball).

Rose was asked the following question by ESPN the Magazine, “If 1 equals ‘What are PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs)’? and 10 equals ‘Everybody’s Juicing’…How big of an issue is illegal enhancing in your sport?”

In response, Rose said, “Seven. It’s huge, and I think we need a level playing field, where nobody has that advantage over the next person.”

This comment flies in the face of what pretty much every league official, team official and virtually every player asked about the issue has said. David Stern before congress, LeBron James in interviews, union officials have all said that the NBA did not have a culture of PED usage and it was not an issue.

In a panel at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference a couple years ago, then Suns executive Steve Kerr talked about the great concerns teams have wanting to monitor everything that players take as supplements to keep them from taking something on the banned list.

But we all also know there are designer drugs out there that can escape detection. During the long grind of the NBA season, a drug that could help a player recover more quickly would be a huge advantage.

These comments will thrust the issue back into the spotlight, and it will not become another issue that is part of the ongoing (and already contentious Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations).