NBA Will Now Drug Test Players For Human Growth Hormone

By McCarton Ackerman 04/20/15

Not everybody is happy with the decision made between the league and the player's union.

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Drug testing in professional basketball is about to toughen up. Both the NBA and its Players’ Association announced plans to implement testing for human growth hormone (HGH) into its already comprehensive anti-drug program.

Although HGH was already included in the league’s banned substance list, specific guidelines for testing and punishments had never been implemented. Blood testing for HGH will commence at the start of NBA training camps for the 2015-2016 season. Players will now be subject to three random, unannounced tests annually, with two during the season and one in the off-season. Additional tests subject to reasonable cause may also be implemented.

Any player who tests positive for HGH will receive a 20-game suspension for their first violation and a 45-game suspension for the second violation. A third violation will result in being terminated from the league.

But not everyone in the NBA is happy with this decision. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has spoken in support of HGH use and said that it had been banned in pro basketball and baseball “for no good reason.” In November 2013, he controversially stated that HGH could be used as a way to help athletes recovery from injuries more quickly and return to the court sooner.

"The issue isn’t whether I think it should be used. The issue is that it has not been approved for such use,” he told USA Today via email. “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."

The World Anti-Doping Agency currently has HGH on its list of banned substances, while the Drug Enforcement Administration forbids HGH use for the purpose of bodybuilding or improving athletic performance. The Food & Drug Administration only permits adults to use it who suffer from a bowel syndrome, a hormone deficiency associated with rare pituitary tumors or a muscle-wasting disease associated with HIV.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.