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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 18, 2008

Expert says
High-school use of human growth hormone “fascinatingly uncommon,” probably not true

VOORHEESVILLE — The interim superintendent here would not say if the over-the-counter drugs Voorheesville football players were taking were related to human growth hormone.

“I can’t confirm and I can’t deny,” said Raymond Colucciello.

While allegations were made that the varsity players were taking human growth hormone, an expert told The Enterprise this was highly unlikely.

Dr. Alan Rogol, who testified before the House of Representatives Government Reform Committee to address human growth hormone on behalf of The Endocrine Society, said that HGH use by high school athletes “is fascinatingly uncommon.”

“Injecting human growth hormone is phenomenally expensive, about $20,000 a year. This is why I would have a tough time believing that they were taking real HGH,” said Rogol, a professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Virginia and Indiana University School of Medicine.

“They got something on the Internet or over the counter that’s similar or something that releases human growth hormone,” said Rogol. “If that’s the case, it made their urine really expensive.”

HGH can be used for both good and bad. “There are legitimate uses,” said Rogol.

Endocrinologists and other doctors prescribe HGH to children with stunted growth. Conditions such as chronic kidney disease, growth hormone deficiency, idiopathic short stature, and Turner syndrome are some other cases where HGH can be effective.

The pituitary gland, which is at the base of the brain, naturally produces human growth hormone in the body. “You should not be taking HGH unless you have a medical problem. HGH is naturally in your body for a reason,” said Rogol.

“There are people out there who are concerned about their body image and unhappy with it. They think that they can take HGH to build muscle and energy to make themselves better athletes,” said Rogol. “There is absolutely no data in adolescents to show that this is true, and the data in young adult humans has been strongly reviewed. There is no unequivocal data to show us anything in terms of building muscle through misuse of HGH that these kids couldn’t do otherwise by using their own natural HGH and whatever training program they use.”

Rogol said that “legitimate” human growth hormone is made by micro bugs. “If people were abusing the pituitary gland stuff, which is made by cadavers, then they have the chance of getting really bad viral diseases,” he said.

“There is a lot of phony stuff out there that these players could be taking,” said Rogol. “If they are, then it’s quite pointless.”

 “This is actually the first time I’ve heard, for lack of better words, kids getting ‘busted’ for HGH,” said Rogol. “I doubt this is true.”

Jordan J. Michael

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