Last updated on: 5/10/2021 | Author: ProCon.org

Should Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Use Be Accepted in Sports?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

The USADA, in a Feb. 13, 2019 article, “Growth Hormone in Sport: What Athletes Should Know,” available at usada.org, stated:

“Humans naturally produce growth hormone, which controls how the body grows from childhood to adulthood but doesn’t directly act on the bones and muscles. When growth hormone is released by the pituitary in the brain, it circulates in the blood and stimulates the release of a protein called IGF-1 from the liver. The IGF-1 protein is what ultimately stimulates the growth of bones, muscle, and other tissues.

Growth hormone levels are highest in children and decrease with age. While adults still produce growth hormone, the levels are much lower than in children and adolescents…

Growth hormone may only be legally prescribed for a small number of conditions. In pediatric patients, doctors can prescribe it to treat growth hormone deficiency, Prader-Willi syndrome, Turner syndrome, idiopathic short stature (when children are smaller than normal but there isn’t a clear reason) and to treat growth failure in children born small who don’t catch up by the time they are two…

In adults, growth hormone can also be prescribed to treat growth hormone deficiency as a result of pituitary disease, radiation therapy, or trauma. However, the medical use of growth hormone is complex because determining the right time to give the medication and figuring out who will actually benefit from it can be subjective. Growth hormone does not always cause a measurable increase in the rate of growth or development…

The use of growth hormone for an “off-label” use (not approved by the Food and Drug Administration) is unlawful and a felony under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.”

Feb. 13, 2019 - US Anti-Doping Agengy (USADA)

The Mayo Clinic, in a Dec. 4, 2020 article, “Performance-Enhancing Drugs: Know the Risks,” available at mayoclinic.org, stated:

“Human growth hormone is a hormone that has an anabolic effect. Athletes take it to improve muscle mass and performance. However, it hasn’t been shown conclusively to improve either strength or endurance.

Human growth hormone is available only by prescription and is administered by injection…

Adverse effects related to human growth hormone range in severity and may include:
–Joint pain
–Muscle weakness
–Fluid retention
–Diabetes
–Vision problems
–Carpal tunnel syndrome
–Impaired glucose regulation
–Enlarged heart (cardiomegaly)
–High blood pressure (hypertension)”

Dec. 4, 2020 - Mayo Clinic

PRO (yes)

Pro

Mark Cuban, entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team, in a May 28, 2020 tweet stated:

“It’s time to recognize that HGH (Human Growth Hormone) can positively impact injury recovery. I funded this study so that athletes can get back to full strength and doing what they love.”

[Editor’s Note: Cuban linked to a [University of] Michigan Medicine tweet promoting this article: Kylie Urban, “Human Growth Hormone Treatment After ACL Injury May Prevent Loss of Muscle Strength,” labblog.uofmhealth.org, May 26, 2020]

May 28, 2020

Pro

Shannon J. Owens, sports columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, wrote the following statements in a June 9, 2008 article titled “An Alternative View on HGH and Sports Athletes,” posted on the HGH.tv website:

“[R]ather than tying up our federal government in lengthy investigations and spending tax dollars to support poorly administered [HGH] tests, let’s just eliminate the chase.

Give athletes of legal adult age the choice to juice or inject as they so please. Require those athletes to go public and make them wear an asterisk next to their Nike, Reebok or adidas running gear. Then, etch the asterisk into their gold medals. Heck, make those athletes run in ‘juiced’ competitions…

Don’t punish athletes for allowing themselves to be sacrificial lambs in their tortured pursuit of happiness. Let them and their supporters stand boldly before the world for their decisions.”

June 9, 2008 - Shannon J. Owens

Pro

Abdul-Karim Al-Jabbar (formerly known as Sharmon Shah and Karim Abdul-Jabbar), former National Football League (NFL) running back, was quoted as having said the following in a Sep. 7, 2006 ESPN The Magazine article titled “HGH: Performance Enhancer or Healer”:

“([G]rowth hormone) is [used] more to recover from injury… I haven’t heard of growth hormone giving you strength… The bottom line is we get beat the hell up. We need whatever’s available to keep ourselves out there… I think anything that’s helpful should be legal, because when you’re done, they fold you up and say goodbye.”

Sep. 7, 2006 - Abdul-Karim Al-Jabbar

Pro

Rick Ross, Slip-N-Slide Records rapper, stated in a Mar. 25, 2008 interview titled “Rick Ross Supports Cheating Obama and HGH,” posted on the You Been Blinded website:

“What’s wrong with a little HGH? You’re 35 years old, let’s take Shaq for instance. That’s my best friend. His hip, his knee… He’s 30 something years, jumpin’ up and down. What’s wrong with a little HGH?

C’mon, yall know Mark McGuire was only hitting 15 home runs a year, then overnight they went to 60 a season… But he did it for the game. I stopped watching baseball til HGH came back. So y’all gotta keep it real. What y’all wanna do? Y’all wanna get money, y’all wanna sell hotdogs, y’all wanna sell memorabilia, gotta hit home runs.”

Mar. 25, 2008 - Rick Ross

Pro

The Institute of Sociological Research, an Israeli organization that publishes articles on various topics, wrote the following information in the article “Why Is HGH Illegal in Sports?” (accessed Dec. 15, 2008):

“[T]here is a clear difference between steroids which gets you stronger and human growth hormone HGH which heals you. MLB needs to think about what [they’re] banning and take in consideration the health of [their] players. This can go out to all of the leagues in the professional sports business, especially high paid contact sports like football and hockey. HGH… can increase your recovery overall and… recovery speed. Star players who generate money and ticket stands… can get injured quickly. Human growth hormone is… highly recommendable if prescribed by a professional. Also… it can increase the muscle tissue and even make [muscles] stronger then before… Its positive effects can easily out weigh its side effects. In sports, it can be used to create a safe environment for contacts and injury extensions. If taken into consideration it can… extend careers in every sport.”

Dec. 15, 2008 - Institute of Sociological Research

CON (no)

Con

Ann Snook, marketing writer at i-Sight Software, in an Apr. 10, 2019 article, “Doping in Sports: What it is and How to Stop it with Whistleblowing,” available at i-sight.com, stated:

“Doping in sports raises several ethical issues.

First off, using a prohibited substance can be dangerous to the athlete’s health. While they enhance performance in some ways, most of the banned substances also have negative side effects. From hormone imbalances to heart problems, there are reasons athletes shouldn’t use these substances unless directed by a doctor.

Doping in sports is also flat-out cheating. It gives athletes an unfair advantage (or gives an opponent a disadvantage) that takes away the level playing field.

Similarly, doping does not fit in with the sportsmanlike spirit. Play the Game, an initiative by the Danish Institute for Sports Studies says, “rather than being a contest between persons and their athletic skills, sports contests with doped athletes are likely to be transformed into struggles between the most medically and technologically administered body.”

Coercion is another major ethical problem that arises due to doping in sports. Athletes who dope either directly or indirectly coerce clean athletes into using banned substances, too. Clean athletes feel that they no longer have a chance at winning if they don’t dope, so they go against their best judgement and values to keep a competitive edge.

Finally, corruption and doping go hand-in-hand. Bribing or promising favors to officials in exchange for them turning a blind eye to offenses or changing or omitting test results helps doping athletes get ahead.”

Apr. 10, 2019

Con

Gary I. Wadler, MD, Chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Prohibited List and Methods Sub-Committee, stated the following in a June 27, 2008 interview, “Dr. Gary Wadler of the World Anti-Doping Agency Gives His Answers to Your Questions (Part II),” published by The New York Times:

“There are those who are of the mind that there is nothing wrong with using or even encouraging the use of performance-enhancing drugs such as… hGH. Obviously, I strongly disagree with such a premise. Sport is a contest in character, not in chemistry or pharmacology. Not only is doping dangerous to one’s health, it blatantly violates the spirit of sport, and at least in the United States, the use of… hGH for performance enhancement violates federal law.”

June 27, 2008 - Gary I. Wadler, MD

Con

Christian Strasburger, MD, Professor of Medicine and Chief of Clinical Endocrinology at Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, wrote the following information in a 2007 Question and Answer article titled “The Researcher’s Perspective,” published in the second issue of Play True:

“HGH has… been used widespread because it was considered undetectable and the known physiological effects of growth hormone are muscle building as well as lipolytic and therefore providing energy substrates which cheating athletes obviously fancy… If clean athletes are to compete on a level playing field, then hGH detection must be implemented.”

2007 - Christian Strasburger, MD

Con

Charles Schumer, US Senator (D-NY), stated the following while speaking on behalf of Senate Bill 877 – Controlling the Abuse of Prescriptions Act of 2007:

“No one disputes that HGH has some important medical uses – adults with AIDS, children with serious kidney disease can benefit from small, carefully administered doses of HGH. But in the wrong hands, HGH can lead to serious problems. Some of the worst side effects include cancer, heart disease, gigantism, impotence, menstrual problems, and arthritis… If a sports star says it is OK to illegally take… HGH… it is almost certain children will follow. We have to make sure dangerous substances can only get to the small number of people who need them… The widespread growth of human growth hormone in Major League Baseball has put a cloud [over] our national pastime.”

Feb. 28, 2007 - Charles Schumer, JD

Con

Michael Giltz, freelance pop culture and politics writer, stated in a Feb. 18, 2008 article titled “Andy Pettitte Fails to Take Responsibility,” published by The Huffington Post:

“[HGH is] AGAINST FEDERAL LAW. Baseball has a morals clause – anything that brings disgrace to the game of baseball is against the rules. Cheating is cheating… Using HGH is cheating. Period.”

Feb. 18, 2008 - Michael Giltz