By Dave Wagner
If the issue of human growth hormone usage among high school athletes in the area is a concern, it doesn’t appear to have reared its head just yet.
An Associated Press report this week said a national survey by Partnership for Drug-Free Kids suggests that experimentation with HGH among teens has more than doubled in the past year.
Area athletic directors say they’re concerned about HGH use, but don’t believe it’s an issue at this time.
“You can walk in our weight room and look at our kids and tell it’s not an issue,” Clovis High’s Dale Fullerton said. “But nationally, I’m sure it is.”
Fullerton said CHS does random drug-testing, but can’t do testing for HGH or steroids. He said if someone was expected of use, the school could request a blood test.
“I would be foolish to say it’s never happened here, but our kids are just not like that,” he said.
Fullerton’s cohort at Portales High, Mark Gallegos, expressed similar views.
“For me personally, I have not heard very much about it,” Gallegos said. “I’m not saying we haven’t had it, but I know our coaches talk to kids about being smart about what they put into their bodies.
“We have not had any cases that myself or our coaches are aware of.”
HGH has been in the news in recent years in professional sports, which has increased its vigilance in trying to rid their leagues of performance-enhancing drugs. They’re challenged, though, to find effective programs for testing for HGH.
As time goes on, suspicion of PED usage gradually trickles down to the college and high school levels, with pressure to perform at a high level.
“I don’t know of any of our kids using it,” said Muleshoe athletic director David Wood, also the school’s football coach. “I wouldn’t want them using it.”
Wood said the state of Texas can randomly test athletes for PEDs at any time.
“I don’t know of anyone who’s ever been on it,” he said. “I’m definitely not an expert in that area, but I’m sure the expense to test for something like that would be (considerable).”
The AP report cites Steve Saunders, CEO of Power Train Sports Institute, as saying that “it’s a lot easier for high school athletes to get over-the-counter pro-hormones than legitimate HGH.”
Power Train Sports Institute trains thousands of high school and college athletes and hundreds of pro athletes at its 15 locations across six states.
“We tell all our guys you can’t substitute hard work and a proper nutrition play (for PEDs),” Saunders said. “Using HGH and steroids is pure laziness.”
Beyond that are potential negative side effects with HGH usage. In many instances, the AP report noted, young athletes were purchasing “fake” HGH which wasn’t as expensive as the real thing.
“We had no clue we weren’t using real HGH,” one young athlete was quoted in the article. “We figured it out when we didn’t get any results from it and then a guy at our gym told us HGH doesn’t come in a bottle.”
Gallegos said PHS does random drug-testing, but can’t test for HGH.
“I think there’s more pressure (to win) today,” he said. “I think the second thing is you can buy things online, legal or illegal.”