Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Human Growth Hormone Testing Goes Viral

There are some new and interesting developments in anti-doping world that deserves some attention, and if some action was forthcoming instead of interminable delays there would be a need for some commentary as well.

Alberto Contador

First, there is the never ending Alberto Contador saga, which, after two years of delay and possible re-structuring of the strict liability rule appertaining to the possible accidental ingestion of clenbuterol, an anabolic steroid that promotes accelerated lean muscular mass and acts as a bronchial dilator; also a substance incidentally, that has been abused for years to gain an unfair competitive advantage in cycling; as an incredible substance that could be ingested accidentally at the dinner table, causing a false positive test, and a possible two year suspension from professional cycling.  This tale of woe could not possibly get any more bizarre, but believe it or not, a final resolution to the problem may be forthcoming in November, 2011. Break out the champagne!  An issue that, according to the history of the WADA anti-doping crusade strict liability rule, is like everything else in the WADA world, a slam dunk conviction, no need for supplemental evidence that probably will not be admitted into evidence, like an excessive level of plastics consistent with blood doping.  For as history will show with a constant consistency, a rare value in WADA, a constant, anyone who has any amount of an endogenous steroid in the body is subject to suspension, intent be damned.  Not like any endogenous substance that seems to have variable values that could sustain a averse analytical finding, based upon a weak lab document package, or no lab document package, depending on the flavor of the International Standard of the day, as interpreted by the WADA signatory of the day.

NFLPA, the NFL, and Human Growth Hormone Testing

Boomer Esiason shocked me with his well founded assertions that as much as twenty percent of all current National Football League players may be abusing human growth hormone, as he stated on a syndicated radio channel Westwood One. Boomer Esiason claims that this information comes from contacts within the professional teams.  What knowledge do these people have that support their  claims that human growth hormone abuse is as high as twenty percent of all current football players?  Are they providing the dope?  Do they know of others who are providing the dope?  Are they injecting the dope?  Boomer Esiason claims that the National Football League Players Association is dragging their feet to protect their players from testing. And depending upon the level of punishment, suspensions from games and fines, will these punishments not lead to an astronomical decline in quality of the games, chaos that will be created from absences in the rosters? These factors could devastate the game as we know it.  Who wants to watch a third string quarterback blunder away the ball with a half a dozen turnovers a game, or a defensive lineman who can't block, or a safety who can't cover a receiver?  Without the human growth hormone is the game of football going to become a second rate affair without all of the former speed and power of the former juiced athletes?   

This undocumented estimate of current use of human growth hormone within the NFL better be wrong, or there are going to be some very disappointed fantasy football fans, and a great deal of interest and revenue in the NFL is generated from fantasy football.

It is an academic argument that has no potency since there is not human growth hormone testing currently in effect in the National Football League at the present time and the arguments over whether the union is stalling for time because the players want to eliminate all of the synthetic methods, or markers, or isoforms, or metabolites of synthetic human growth hormone abuse before they agree to allow WADA accredited laboratory testing is absurd.  Probably, more important than the cheaters trying to appear innocent, is, as Boomer Esiason admits, the concern over the trustworthiness of WADA accredited laboratories, and the proven ability of WADA accredited laboratories to conduct tests in a competent fashion.  But in the rush to prove the existence of synthetic human growth hormone in players in the NFL, reasonable objections as to competence of the laboratories to measure accurately human growth hormone supported by a reasonable amount of independent peer reviewed scientific literature that demonstrate the un-contestable WADA scientific conclusions that their testing has reliability and validity seems trivial and unnecessary.  After all WADA has used the current human growth hormone testing in the Olympics without the test results being contested.  Independent peer review of WADA testing seems to be an unnecessary bother to people like Boomer Esiason, independent peer review of scientific assertions, seem more like weak fabricated excuses and stalling tactics designed to delay the commencement of human growth hormone testing. After all, the collective bargaining agreement contract between the NFL and the NFLPA called for human growth hormone testing and this testing should have been done long ago.

A wonderful mess, maybe they will resolve all of these issues and commence testing by the 2012 season, and maybe by then Alberto Contador will be stripped of two  grand tour titles.