NFL hopes to start testing for HGH

BY foxsports • February 25, 2010

The NFL hopes to start testing players for human growth hormone, following a test that led to the suspension of a British rugby player.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Wednesday that the league had made a proposal to its players in January regarding HGH. Discussions are ongoing, he said.

"Our position is that HGH testing has advanced to the point where we are taking steps to incorporate it into our program," Aiello said. "We have proposed it to the union."

The NFLPA's player development director, Stacy Robinson, said in a statement that the union "has supported research to find a suitable test that will detect sustained HGH use."

"We believe in and collectively bargained for a system that supports the testing of all banned substances," he said.

The NFL has used preseason blood tests since at least 2006 for cholesterol and tryglycerates.

The issue of HGH testing has gained renewed interest in the wake of the United Kingdom Anti-Doping authority announcing a two-year ban Monday for rugby player Terry Newton, saying he had tested positive and become the first athlete suspended for using HGH.

The substance is believed by some to hasten healing but there is still a debate over whether it increases strength.

A blood test for HGH has been in existence since the 2004 Athens Olympics and available in the U.S. since 2008, according to United States Anti-Doping Agency executive director Travis Tygart.

Tygart said the test was available to professional leagues, but only through World Anti-Doping Agency labs.

"It's one that's been well-vetted, well-discussed," he said by telephone from London. "Further research has been done to get it to a point where it's scientifically valid, and we're happy to help any entity that's interested in having an effective test, whether we're involved with their program or not, getting them comfortable with the validity of the science."

Tygart said the window for detecting HGH through the test is three days at the most, making it most useful for out-of-competition testing.

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