Report: NFL HGH use likely common

Image: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (© Nam Y. Huh/AP Images)
Roger Goodell and the NFL agreed with the NFLPA in 2011 that HGH testing was needed.
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This may not come as a shock to anyone, but NFL players will use any edge they can find to beat out their competition, even if it’s illegal — and especially if they can’t be tested.

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That’s why the use of HGH may be widespread among NFL players, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report. An anonymous NFC starter told the Journal Sentinel that an estimated 10-15 players on each team use HGH.

"It's like clockwork nowadays," he said.

HGH regulates muscle growth and is used to increase lean muscle mass, according to an orthopedic surgeon interviewed by the Journal Sentinel.

After the 2011 lockout, the NFL and NFLPA agreed there should be testing for HGH. The league has not come up with a test yet because that would entail taking blood from players, and, so far, the NFLPA has not agreed to the validity of such a test.

The NFLPA questioned the HGH test after a recent ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the case of Estonian cross-country skier Andrus Veerpalu.

The court lifted the three-year suspension imposed by the International Ski Federation on the two-time Olympic champion for use of HGH, citing "procedural flaws" in the limits established by the World Anti-Doping Agency to determine a positive test. But the three-person CAS panel also said it believed Veerpalu did take HGH, and it backed the WADA testing method as a whole.

The NFLPA, however, remarked in a statement that the CAS decision "validates the players' demand for scientific validity, full due process rights, and a transparent system." WADA stands by its test.


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The Journal Sentinel interviewed multiple NFL players for its report, most of whom gave their names — including former Cowboys safety Darren Woodson and former Packers safety LeRoy Butler. The general consensus among the interviewed players seems to be that while they don’t personally do it, they know of many players who do — and they think players will continue to push the envelope as long as there's no testing.

The report also raises the specter of Major League Baseball's steroids scandal as a reason why the NFL and NFLPA may seem to be dragging their heels. There could be major damage to the league's image and popularity if HGH testing is implemented and several NFL stars test positive.

Until the league puts a test in place for HGH, however, its use likely only will continue to increase.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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