Tuesday, November 11, 2008

When the absence of a positive is a negative

Quite the little conundrum MLB's testing policy is in, eh? Yesterday was that HGH Summit that we were waiting for.

Three hours into a conference held Monday by Major League Baseball on human growth hormone, the real question of the day emerged when officials from the commissioner’s office and the players union wondered aloud about how effective the current blood test for human growth hormone was if no one had tested positive.
Osquel Barroso, the senior manager of science for the World Anti-Doping Agency, was one such expert invited to the conference. WADA, which oversees the testing of Olympic athletes, has tested 8,500 athletes for human growth hormone since 2000 and has never had a test come back positive.
What I've been pushing for, as have others including Olney & Gammons, is the storing of blood until a reliable HgH test is available. The costs, while much greater than urine testing, should be totally absorbed by the $6B in revenues raked in by MLB. It's a small price to pay for integrity and a show of foresight.
Under baseball’s drug-testing program, only a player’s urine is collected. Taking blood from players is a more complicated and expensive procedure, and the commissioner’s office and the players union have said they do not want to take such a step unless there is a reliable test.
So if sporting organizations (amateur, pro, Olympic) are waiting until there's a reliable urine test for HGH, keep waiting:
“We have to wait a few years, we are not there in our world,” said Don Catlin, the head of Anti-Doping Research, a nonprofit organization that is researching a urine test for H.G.H. “We are trying to find a needle in a haystack.”
Then there is this juicy tidbit from the WADA president, back in January 2008:
[World Anti-Doping Agency's new president John] Fahey challenged baseball's policy on human growth hormone. Baseball has pledged to adopt any validated urine test but does not test blood. Baseball said there is no commercially available validated test for HGH.

Equally reprehensible is their blatant disregard for the truth," Fahey said. "Contrary to what they have told Congress this week, there is a reliable test for HGH; the storing of blood is practical, in fact has been effectively in practice for some time in World Anti-Doping Code-compliant testing."

The WADA statement said commercial kits for HGH blood testing are in development and that it offered to host a meeting between MLB and WADA experts. WADA also said baseball should store blood and serum, which might contain HGH that is more stable, for future testing.
Just store the blood already, MLB. If nothing else, it provides a MAJOR deterrent for those contemplating using HGH.


Thomas Park said...

Is there even scientific evidence that HGH actually improves performance? Has there even been a scientific study on the effects of HGH?

Chris said...

Everything I've read actually says that there are no performance enhancing effects of HGH. From journals, not any kind of sports publications. We've all been 'trained' to think that it does, in fact, increase performance so I can see how this would be tough to swallow. It is for me too.