Spiral of Denial author interviewed on doping in football

footballgripQ1. With your knowledge about the game and drugs: How extensive is the use of HGH in the NFL?

Matt Chaney, Author of Spiral of Denial: I believe use of recombinant hGHis a widespread problem in the NFL,
impacting competition. Recently, Tampa Bay Bucs running back Earnest
Graham estimated 30 percent of NFL players use growth hormone, while
former St. Louis Rams lineman DeMarco Farr estimated about half of
players use. This week, former Packers lineman Tony Mandarich
admitted using rhGH and steroids in the NFL, and he said dozens to
hundreds of doctors are prescribing such drugs to the athletes.
Retired NFL players have told me a large majority of active players
use rhGH, at all positions in any given year, and many retirees enjoy
the drug’s reinvigorating effects long after they’ve left the game
and anabolic steroids.

Q2. Why is HGH seemingly popular among athletes (track and field, NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL)?

Chaney: One reason is the drug’s rapid rejuvenation of depleted muscles, and
many athletes believe hGH helps restore joints from wear and tear,
even injury. For size and power, athletes believe androgens,
testosterone and/or anabolic steroids, are necessary in concert with
Growth to achieve great gains. The standard, time-trusted drug
stack for beating urinalysis is hGH and low-dose
testosterone. The prescription records of numerous Carolina Panthers
players from 2002 to 2004 corroborate this fact, their receipt of
PEDs like hGH and testosterone from private physician James Shortt,
who’s since convicted of criminal drug charges. In track and field
since 1984, athletes, coaches and gurus have discussed the stack of
low-dose testosterone and hGH stack for its effectiveness at both
enhancing performance and evading detection.

Q3. The NFL does not test for HGH because the players feel that only aurine test will expose the use of HGH. Do you agree with that
argument (against the blood test)?

Chaney: I’m currently re-exploring the question of NFL players’ resistance to
drug testing, which I’ve discussed with athletes and other qualified
observers for over 20 years. One enduring reason is players do not
trust management with such a powerful tool, not only for possibly
revealing foreign substances but also other medical data.
Contemporary players are very wary of releasing health information
they consider private, regarding drugs or otherwise. In addition,
American football players do not trust any sort of testing for
preventing muscle drugs, steroids, hGH and more, and I don’t blame
them. Standard urinalysis is proven an utter failure, with gaping
loopholes and questionable science, yet football players still must
take part in the charade. They don’t want any more technology added
to the mix, unless it unequivocally turns back the drug(s) it is
touted to prevent. The current WADA blood test for rhGH, designed to
differentiate the dominant GH isoform from its bio-engineered clone,
apparently is useless for battling abuse in any sport, much less the
NFL. No drug-savvy football player in America would be so stupid as
to flunk this test, with its detection window of only hours.
Moreover, if by chance chopsticks would catch a fly, so to speak, the
accused athlete and his representatives, ranging from personal agents
to union officials, would immediately challenge the isoform test in
court. Some pro football players make more money annually than USADA
has in its entire operating budget. NFL players would crush the
GH-isoform test in American trial court. Now, all that said, an
intriguing development is WADA’s current move toward adding the
GH-biomarker test to its anti-doping employ. The biomarker, said to
have a 14-day detection window for outcome substances of GH in the
bloodstream like the potent enhancer IGF-1, could raise the stakes
against determined dopers while assuring other players that valid
prevention is finally in place. However, expert critics denounce
blood-profiling for anti-doping, including Dutch statistician Klaas
M. Faber, who ridicules the suspension of German speedskater Claudia
Pechstein for the adverse analytical finding he says is based on
invalid data. Pechstein, of course, has never tested positive in a
direct analysis for doping, and her experience represents the kind of
prosecution and punishment any person would resist-and especially
affluent American athletes and their support networks. Blood testing
must be sound, solid in its science and backed by heavy legal
resources for meeting the formidable challenges of policing American
athletes for PEDs; I don’t think it is.

Q4. For years WADA has criticized the NFL for not doing enough to
prevent the use of illegal drugs including HGH. Is that a fair

Chaney: I think WADA specializes in public relations, not preventing doping
and protecting athletes and fair play. Anyone who says WADA has
successfully battled doping in the Olympics and others sports is
moronic or, worse, deceitful.. Performances of Olympic athletes
continue to elevate through the roof, especially for the speed
factor, with no reasonable explanation other than doping. I trust
WADA and USADA would accomplish as much against drugs in American
football, like hGH, as have the NFL and NCAA in almost a
quarter-century of their anti-doping: Nothing.

Q5. Some experts feel that the NFL four-game suspensions are laughable
(like the one Texans linebacker Brian Cushing recently received). Do
you agree?

Chaney: I once hoped that policy of testing and punishment could make a
difference in athletics, root out drugs and protect all athletes. It
cannot. It only persecutes the few athletes to get caught, among the
masses who use drugs for competitive gains. I’ve been in the
athlete’s position, facing the question of whether to use drugs or
not to compete at high level, and I chose to inject testosterone for
succeeding in college football, 1982. I’d do the same today in
American football, much quicker too, since nothing can stop drugs and
the players have become gigantic attack robots. I refuse to endorse
punishment of individuals for doping anymore, without valid and
reliable detection in place, and that is nowhere in sight.

Q6. How do players react to such suspensions?

Chaney: It devastates them, from collegiate to professional competitors. They
know they’ve been singled out, and unfairly. That’s why it is folly
to add more ineffective testing to American football at this point in
time. The players won’t stand for it. They will fight back, and in
the court of law, foregoing the kangaroo arbitration process of sport

Q7. How should the NFL in your opinion try to prevent the use of HGH – if possible?

Chaney: I’ve virtually given up hope that any technology will ever prevent
muscle doping in any sport, from steroids to hGH, and elimination is
out of the question, isn’t it? Experts tell me a fortune is needed
for research and development to improve the current model of
anti-doping, probably billions of dollars, with still no guarantee
for success. That kind of funding is impossible, especially in our
cash-strapped world. Possible remedies are scant, but for American
football I espouse immediate reduction of doping and injuries by
placing size limits on players from preps to pros. Forget testing.
Football organizations can place restrictions on player sizes, law
enforcement can probe illicit PEDs in sport and culture, and if
problems persist, well, then the trial courts of America will kill
the sport with lawsuits. The choices are clear.

Matt Chaney is a journalist, editor, teacher and publisher in Missouri. E-mail him at mattchaney@fourwallspublishing.com. For more information about his 2009 book Spiral of Denial: Muscle Doping in American Football, visit the home page at www.fourwallspublishing.com.

About the Author

Matt Chaney is a writer, editor, publisher and teacher living in Missouri. A former college football player, Chaney specializes in issues of sport, producing reports and commentary for publications such as The New York Daily News and The Kansas City Star. For his master’s degree thesis, Chaney analyzed media coverage of anabolic substances in American football from 1983 to 1999. His previous nonfiction books are: My Name Is Mister Ryan and Legend In Missouri. Chaney and his wife, Laura, operate Four Walls Publishing. For more information, visit www.fourwallspublishing.com.