Mark Cuban wants some answers.
With the recent uptick of injuries suffered by NBA superstars, the Dallas Mavericks owner is proposing the league allow athletes to use HGH as a way of expediting the recovery process, according to USA Today's Sam Amick:
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.
It's important to emphasize that Cuban isn't advocating HGH use; he's simply asking that research be conducted to determine whether or not it can help players return from injury.
To the best of Cuban's knowledge, no such studies have been held, and he cites general distaste for HGH as a potential reason why:
The issue isn't whether I think it should be used. 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.
This isn't the first time Cuban has alluded to his pro-fact-finding stance. Back in August, as Amick notes, Cuban went on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and blasted MLB for its treatment of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
"It's never been proven that HGH helps a baseball player," Cuban explained to Leno. "Or a basketball player. It's just been so tainted that players shouldn't take it, that it's become banned for no good reason."
Though Cuban may have a point, there are plenty of obstacles for the NBA to clear before they can even entertain the sanctioned use of HGH.
First, the Food and Drug Administration only allows prescription HGH for a limited number of conditions, per Amick, who also writes that "HGH is illegal to use for anti-aging, improved athletic performance and bodybuilding."
Using it to accelerate the recovery process seems to fall under the latter. There's no sense investing time and money into a project that, if successful, may be unable to be implemented anyway.
Unfair advantages come into play, too. Let's say players are eventually permitted to use HGH to help rehab injuries; how will those who elect to stay away from the substance feel? Or what about those who won't readily have access to it?
More than anything, though, there's the stigma associated with HGH. If its use is approved, there's no guarantee it becomes accepted practice.
Player legacies could still be tainted by the public and any who would still consider the use of HGH doping. Just because it becomes legal doesn't mean it will have a place in the game.
Still, Cuban's take is an interesting one—especially now. In one weekend, the Association saw Marc Gasol, Andre Iguodala and Derrick Rose all go down with injury. Then there are the still-sidelined stars like Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo, who are navigating extended stays on the injured list.
Proponents of hasty returns will likely be open to exploring Cuban's comments further. As for those who remain fiercely protective of the game's purity, you have to ask yourself: If it meant that a Kobe, Rondo or Rose could return healthier and faster, would you still say no to endorsing the limited (and monitored) use of HGH?
That's just one of many questions Cuban's latest foray into the unknown should have us pondering.