First Analytical HGH Positive Test in UK Rugby, MLB Implications
The world’s first analytical positive test for human growth hormone is on record. Professional rugby player, Terry Newton provided a blood sample to the United Kingdom Anti-Doping agency (UKAD) in November, the test came back positive for HGH. Newton was banned for two years and his team, the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, terminated his contract. Newton did not contest the results according to the New York Daily News report.
This represents a major deterrent for athletes who believe HGH is still not detectable. HGH tests were first said to have been administered at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, but with no positive tests since then, many believed the test was ineffective or possibly just a smokescreen.
The implications for Major League Baseball are obvious. HGH has been banned by Major League Baseball since 2005, but the league has maintained that they do not have a reliable test for the drug.
Baseball has banned growth hormone since 2005, but there is still no HGH testing. Travis Tygart, USADA’s chief executive, Monday blasted baseball’s argument that an effective HGH test is unavailable.
“All of us who have helped develop a test wouldn’t put it in place if it wasn’t forensically sound and reliable.” Tygart told the Daily News. “Particularly in (Newton’s) case, it’s proof positive the test works.”
This probably doesn’t change much for MLB. There is still no reliable urine test for HGH, and convincing the union to agree to blood testing would be difficult, so an HGH test in baseball may be a long way off. The union has always maintained that blood testing is too intrusive of its members, though they said the same thing about the current testing program before it was implemented.
There is however, some support for blood-based HGH testing among players, at least publicly. Two years ago, when the issue of HGH was more in the spotlight, Houston Astros’ stars, Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt scoffed at the idea that blood testing was more intrusive than urine testing.
Berkman told MLB.com he would gladly provide a blood sample.
“And stage fright’s a real deal… If you can’t go in front of somebody… you just mentally lock up. I’d rather stick my arm out and they can take blood out of me all day long.”
Other players such as Derek Jeter, Jeff Kent, and Chipper Jones said they too would agree to blood testing. This may not represent the overall opinion of the players, especially now. HGH testing in baseball is possible, it may have been for some time, but the issues of intrusiveness, legality and cost remain.