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By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – As the line between what is a performance enhancing drug, and what isn’t, continues to blur, professional athletes are faced with the challenge, and the question of whether they should use PEDs becomes more difficult.
HGH (human growth hormone) is one of the more high profile PEDs, that has been abused by some players, but could benefit many who are attempting to recover from an injury, or lengthen careers that might be cut short by a degenerative condition. Former Phillies pitcher Ryan Madson believes his case is of the injured player variety.
“If HGH were legal,” Madson told MLB.com, “just in the process of healing, under a doctor’s recommendation, in the right dosage, while you’re on the [disabled list], I don’t think that’s such a bad idea — as long as it doesn’t have any lasting side effects, negative side effects.”
Madson has been recovering for over a year from Tommy John surgery.
Former major league player David Segui said that HGH helped him immensely, and once suggested it could benefit another Phillies player who has had injury problems over the last few years. Segui was one of the players originally named in the Mitchell Report, as testing positive for PEDs.
“That’s why [HGH] I can walk around and my knees don’t hurt,” Segui said in an interview in 2012 with 94WIP’s Anthony Gargano and Glen Macnow. “I used to have to walk down the steps sideways, because it hurt so bad. Now my legs, my knees feel like they did when I was in my late 20′s.”
In MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011, players allowed blood testing for HGH, the first professional sport to do so.
“There should be some exceptions to the rule. You got a guy like this, he’s too young to even think about having to shut it down. Or even the thought of not having Chase Utley on the field for another six, seven years, that’s wrong,” he said.
HGH is only thought to be “performance enhancing” when it’s combined with testosterone.
“It gives you quality of life is what it gives you. It doesn’t enhance your performance, it just allows you to move around, and your joints don’t hurt. And people that have arthritis, and suffer from arthritis, I used to think it wasn’t a big deal when I was young, and how bad it could be. It’s painful. It’s every day, every step hurts. It just really affects your daily living. And all the growth did was allow me to eliminate the pain in my knees, eliminate the grinding, that knife jabbing under your knee caps. It’s amazing. Clearly, clearly, it’s a prescription drug. Clearly it needs to be prescribed by a doctor and monitored by a doctor. I don’t condone everyone running out and taking it,” Segui said.
Madson added that he hasn’t taken HGH, and the rule shouldn’t be extended to steroids.
“But I will still believe, even if I get healthy without that,” Madson added, “that it should be legal, in the right dosage, under supervision, with doctors, for the only purposes to help heal and get players back in the Major Leagues. Because people want to watch them, because of their talents, just to get them back on the field to play. That’s it. I think it would be good for the game; I think it would be good for the fans. Fans want to see the best players play, and they want to see the players that they watch come back from injury and stay back. I think it would be a good thing.”