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Testing for HGH: Why It Won't Work in the NFL, MLB or Any Other Major Sport

CANTON, OH - AUGUST 05: Commissioner of the National Football League, Roger Goodell and Director of the National Football League Players' Association, DeMaurice Smith pose with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement on the front steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 5, 2011 in Canton, Ohio.  (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Bud Lite)
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
Dylan LajoieContributor IIAugust 5, 2011

The NFL recently made headlines by taking the step of including HGH testing as part of their new players contract that ended the infamous lockout. 

The use of human growth hormones and performance enhancing drugs in mainstream sports is a topic that has been scrutinized greatly over the last 10 to 15 years, by not only the sports media, but the mainstream media and has infiltrated the walls of our governance over the years as well.

Many seem to believe that the NFL strengthening it's anti-drug policy as a major step for all sports, as it's a known fact that the sport of football itself has been plagued by not only performance enhancing drug use, but pain killer and recreational drug use as well, as is the case in many sports. 

Will these tests actually be effective though? Or are they simply a step to lay friendly with a fan base that wants to see clean play and a government now stepping on the toes of commissioners to up their anti-PED game?

The truth of the matter is pretty simple. No matter what policy a league implements when it comes to testing for human growth hormones, there is no clear cut way to test for the drugs yet. 

In fact, testing for the drug only began less than 10 years ago at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Greece, despite most sports and leagues banning them years before. Since the process of testing for human growth hormone is relatively new, it hasn't had a whole lot of time to develop and become fully effective, despite making great strides since its conception. 

Currently the amount of athletes who test positive for HGH is very low. Lets not assume our beloved athlete heroes are innocent though, that just can't be. 

In reality, most cases of testing for human growth hormone takes place over the course of the season. Most athletes use HGH during offseason training. This doesn't create for effective drug testing by any administration or league.

Unless the NFL introduces a drug testing policy that includes randomized tests in the offseason, this new policy won't have many tangible effects. Honestly, that is not something that is likely to happen.

I typically side with the players in these long, drawn out contract talks and lockouts, but one thing the players won't want, that I do, is offseason drug testing. I want it because I want to see who is and who isn't legitimate in sports.

The players don't want it because they don't want to be caught.

Until league officials get tough with players on drug policy negotiations, we won't see as much progress as Roger Goodell and the NFL are leading on. When a sport is run as a business and the contract dispute between owners and players comes down to drug testing and policy, the league would rather just give their players the win. It's not in the best interest of a business to interrupt money flow more than it has to.

Unfortunately it'll be a long time before fans see human growth hormone transparency in any of the four major money making sports. Until commissioners and officials stop running sports as a pure business and make it into something more than that again—true competition—these sort of drug policies won't have a whole lot of effect.

It's going to take a movement to re-legitimize sports and athletics to bring in better anti-drug policy in the mainstream sports, and the players will need to hop on board in support of it just as much as the leagues are. Unfortunately, that'll be just as tough to do when an athlete's biggest motivation at the end of the day is their cut of the paycheck. 

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