Congress Wants to Protect the Children with Hearings on Growth Hormone Testing

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Congressional leaders continue to grandstand on the issue of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in sports. The same Congressmen who led the charge in the Congressional hearings on steroids in Major League Baseball (MLB) have now turned their attention to the National Football League (NFL).

Congress wants to compel the NFL to implement a new anti-doping test for the detection of human growth hormone. Representative Darrell Issa, the Republican Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Democrat Elijah Cummings, the Committee’s ranking Democrat, were responsible for launching a hearing into the matter titled: “HGH Testing in the NFL: Is the Science Ready?”

The NFL and the NFL players’ union had agreed in principle to such testing almost two years ago. But the players’ union has not been satisfied with the reliability of the current hGH test.

Chairman Issa acknowledged that it was unlikely that any federal legislation would be introduced to force the NFL to implement hGH testing.

Issa admitted that the hearing served little purpose other than to offer Congressional leaders a platform to grandstand about their concern for protecting children from the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

“The fact of the matter is that the lack of a testing regime in the NFL for Human Growth Hormone – or HGH – is a public health concern,” Issa said. “It affects not just the health and safety of NFL players, but more importantly endangers young athletes who admire and often try to emulate them…HGH has no place in America’s most popular sport.”

The moral agenda of the hearing was underscored by the absence of testimony from any independent scientific experts. Instead, representatives from morally-driven groups crusading against steroids were called to testify.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) was asked to submit testimony about the effectiveness of growth hormone testing. But in the aftermath of the Lance Armstrong doping investigation, USADA’s credibility has been called into question. Anti-doping protocols have been exposed as being woefully ineffective in the fight against doping.

Congress also invited Dick Butkus, the former NFL hall of famer turned anti-doping crusader, who didn’t contribute an iota of evidence to the science of hGH testing. Instead, the promoter of the “I Play Clean Campaign” spoke about protecting the children.

“It’s time to send a clear message that performance-enhancing drugs have no place in sports, especially the NFL,” said Butkus. “The well being of our nation’s most active youth is riding on it, and they’re paying attention to what happens in the NFL.”

Photo credit: Wikpedia


Mihoces, G. (December 12, 2012). Butkus on HGH: It’s time to clean up NFL. Retrieved from (December 12, 2012). Congress presses NFL, union to start testing for HGH at hearing. Retrieved from