Last week, the NBA announced they will start testing players for Human Growth Hormone (HGH), a decision that was agreed upon by both the league and the player’s union. LeBron James, who is executive vice president of the NBPA, told reporters after the Cleveland Cavaliers’ practice Saturday that he’s not concerned. Via Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group:
“…if it’s the rules, it’s the rules,” James said. “It shouldn’t be a problem.”
Although the NBA already tests for certain performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), they do not currently test for HGH, which requires blood testing. HGH is still, however, on the league’s list of banned substances.
Unlike their counterparts in the NFL and Major League Baseball, the NBA has remained relatively immune to PED scandals, aside from a few isolated incidences involving mid-level players like Hedo Turkoglu and, more recently, the Grizzlies’ Nick Calathes, who was suspended prior to the playoffs last season after testing positive for Tamofixen, which is a masking agent some steroid users use to hide their doping.
Although the new policy isn’t set to take effect until next season, it was originally part of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement. Players around the league will all be subject to a total of three random drug tests, one during the off-season and two during the regular season. The first offense will result in a mandatory 20-game suspension, and the second a 45-game suspension. A player could potentially be kicked out of the league entirely upon a third offense.
Many see these measures as long overdue, given that both the NFL and MLB currently test for HGH, and both have suffered major steroid scandals that have had long-lasting damaging effects on their respective brands. Basketball players, as a whole, certainly aren’t anymore innocent than any other professional athlete, so it’s about time they too are held accountable to the same degree.