OK, so it may have started in professional sports a few years ago with a few players admitting to using, but with testing now in place in minor league baseball and, surprisingly, the National Football League, the list of players caught using HGH is going to grow and be the focus of sports headlines for years to come.
Well, the beginning of the HGH era starts right here in the great state of Colorado with the Colorado Rockies organization. Colorado Sky Sox first baseman Mike Jacobs, who wanted to make a name for himself as a great player in professional baseball, will forever be known as the first professional athlete to test positive for HGH in North America.
Last week, Jacobs was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball for testing positive for HGH and was subsequently released by the Rockies. For Jacobs, who was signed by the team last December as a possible replacement for Todd Helton, this is straight up embarrassing and sad.
According to The Denver Post, Jacobs spent the entire season with the triple-A Colorado Springs club hitting .298 with 23 homeruns and 97 RBIs in 117 games. He told The Post he took the substance to help him recover from injuries.
“A few weeks ago, in an attempt to overcome knee and back problems, I made the terrible decision to take HGH,” Jacobs said. “I immediately stopped a couple of days after being tested. Taking it was one of the worst decisions I could have ever made, one for which I take full responsibility.”
Like many budding athletes, Jacobs, who is 30, wanted to make a name for himself in professional baseball. Unfortunately, he did it the wrong way.
“I'm trying to show baseball people that I don't belong in Triple- A,” Jacobs said just before testing positive. “There are times when you think you've been forgotten. I want an opportunity to be remembered – if not with the Rockies, with another big-league team.”
Well, it won’t be with the Rockies, that’s for sure, and he won’t be remembered for anything but being the first to test positive.
Now, I don’t want to bash Jacobs too much for being the first to post these results. I think it would be quite ignorant to assume that he is one of the few to use HGH to enhance his play on the field. Athletes around the world have and will continue to use HGH. Since the HGH test was introduced in 2004 (the test requires a blood sample), Jacobs is the eighth athlete to test positive worldwide, a World Anti-Doping Agency spokesman told The New York Times. With HGH testing relatively new to North America, the irony about Jacobs’ being caught is, if he had actually been playing for the Rockies instead of the Rockies’ farm team, he wouldn’t have been caught.
Testing for minor leaguers began last year but, with HGH continuing to be controversial with the players association, players at the major-league level are not yet being tested. From Jacobs’ point of view, this is unfortunate because, for starters, he wasn’t playing at the major-league level; also, he got tested and caught; and finally, we all know there are plenty of major leaguers using the substance, which makes it even harder for those minor leaguers to break into the next level. As it is right now, one of the benefits of being in the majors is not being tested. Sounds a little fishy, if you ask me. Why test some and not the others? We’ll see over the next few years if the players association will budge at all in allowing HGH testing in the majors. I am sure it will be watching what happens in the NFL.
As we all know, the NFL players and team owners have come to a new collective bargaining agreement. During the negotiations, all the hype and controversy surrounded revenue sharing, the rookie salary cap, and players’ health. If you remember, not a lot was said about HGH testing. Now that the new CBA is in place, the NFL can begin testing for HGH at random, at any time.
The hormone is used to boost lean muscle mass and aid in recovery after injuries. If HGH is used in baseball, you’d better believe it’s used in football. Now, I’m not sure how hard-core the NFL is going to be this year in testing for HGH. I think if they go crazy with it, Jacobs will almost certainly not be alone on that list. The NFL may decide to take it easy on the testing this year. Who knows?
What I do know is, if the NFL is getting serious about keeping players healthy over the long-term, they’d better start testing often. Using HGH is only going to make players stronger and faster and, therefore, more prone to injuries, as collisions on the field are certain to become even more violent. In the long run, if the NFL wants to stay away from player lawsuits alleging the organization hasn’t done enough to protect player safety, they had better take HGH testing seriously. And they’ll need to do it before they start arguing in the courtroom.
Regardless of what happens this year in the NFL or over the next five years in Major League Baseball, HGH testing is not going away. We have entered the HGH era. Get used to it.