Imagine a world where NBA players were banned from using exercise equipment.
The league didn’t want players getting too physically dominant and subjecting themselves to the types of muscle pulls that would come with a physique arms race. Players were still allowed to train, but using any outside equipment crossed the line. Of course, some players broke the rules and lifted weights, but they risked suspension.
That’s not all that different from the NBA’s HGH ban.
Perhaps, there’s good reason to prevent players from using HGH, but Mark Cuban wants to see the research first.
Cuban isn’t advocating the use of the controversial drug but rather calling attention to what he sees as a dearth of research on the topic as it relates to athletes who are recovering from injury. His hope, which he shared in front of the league’s owners and league officials at an Oct. 23 Board of Governors meeting in New York, is that a more-informed decision can be made as to whether it should remain on the league’s banned-substance list or perhaps be utilized as a way of expediting an athlete’s return to the court. If it were ever allowed — and it’s safe to say that won’t be happening anytime soon — Cuban sees a major benefit for teams and their fans like.
“The issue isn’t whether I think it should be used,” Cuban told USA TODAY Sports via e-mail. “The issue is that it has not been approved for such use. And one of the reasons it hasn’t been approved is that there have not been studies done to prove the benefits of prescribing HGH for athletic rehabilitation or any injury rehabilitation that I’m aware of. The product has such a huge (public) stigma that no one wants to be associated with it.”
“I believe that professional sports leagues should work together and fund studies to determine the efficacy of HGH for rehabbing an injury,” Cuban told USA TODAY Sports. “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.”
I would not be surprised if Cuban is open to allowing HGH for all players, injured or not. But proposing a change as it relates to injuries is a good way in the door.
If the side effects are significant, HGH should remain banned. Players who don’t want to subject themselves to that risk shouldn’t have to compete with players who do.
But if the side effects are deemed mild and rare enough, what exactly would be the NBA’s basis for a continued ban? There are significant legal and perception challenges, but if the league has sound research supporting HGH use, those hurdles could be cleared in time.
I’m not sure we’ll ever see HGH allowed in the NBA. At minimum, it’s a long road to that date.
Cuban is just trying to take a few steps in that direction.