APNewsBreak: Top scientists endorse HGH test
Nearly two dozen scientists and lab directors from around the
world have signed a letter sent to the NFL and the players’
association stating the current test for human growth hormone is
safe, scientifically reliable and appropriate for use in
professional sports leagues.
The letter, obtained by The Associated Press, was dated Oct. 3
and sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and union Executive
Director DeMaurice Smith.
The NFL and the players agreed to begin blood testing for HGH as
part of their new collective bargaining agreement, but only if the
union agreed to the methods. The union has delayed implementing the
test, asking for more scientific data to prove it is reliable.
The letter, signed by 23 scientists and lab directors, says,
”Any suggestion in the press that its accuracy is a matter of
debate is incorrect.”
In another letter obtained by the AP, a separate group of
anti-doping scientists and lab directors also endorsed the
”We want to take the opportunity to confirm that the test
itself is scientifically accepted and has undergone extensive
evaluation,” says that letter, sent to Larry Bowers, the lead
scientist at the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, then forwarded by USADA
CEO Travis Tygart to Goodell and Smith.
In all, about five dozen doctors, scientists and lab directors
had their names on the two letters, which were sent to undercut the
union’s questions about the accuracy and validity of a test that
produces an average of one false positive for every 10,000 tests
”This further demonstrates that there is simply no excuse for
delaying the start of HGH testing in the NFL,” league spokesman
Greg Aiello said. ”The scientific validity of the test is
unquestioned. The abuse of growth hormone must be deterred to
protect the health of our players and send the right message to
young athletes in all sports.”
NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said the union wanted to review
the letters before commenting. The union has asked for more
scientific information about the test so it can do its own
One of the key items the NFLPA is seeking is a population study
of the test – the data from the athletes who were used to
originally set thresholds as to what constitutes a positive test.
It wants to compare that data to a population study on football
players; the union believes they could have naturally higher HGH
levels above those of other athletes.
The World Anti-Doping Agency, which sanctions the test, has
declined to produce more information, per the union’s request,
saying plenty of data about the test is available and in the public
The majority of those who signed the letters have some
connection to WADA or its accredited labs. Those associated with
labs linked to WADA are typically discouraged from making
statements that question the agency’s tests or procedures.
Tygart, in his cover letter to Goodell and Smith, said
scientists at an international anti-doping symposium held in London
earlier this month were ”uniformly troubled” by the delays in
implementing the test.
”The delay is troubling because the scientific validity,
reliability and accuracy of the … test is universally accepted
and attendees at the Symposium recognize that the test is currently
the best way to detect and deter the use of this dangerous,
performance enhancing drug,” Tygart’s letter said.
Even the test’s biggest supporters agree that the HGH test has a
weakness in that it only detects synthetic growth hormone for
around 24 hours after ingestion. But since the test was introduced
in 2004, its accuracy has rarely been questioned this
In an interview earlier this month, Atallah said there ”are
some certain, fundamental things we’re asking for that are not