Mark Cuban had a theory, but he wanted to make sure the science backed it up.
So the Mavericks owner funded a University of Michigan study on the correlation between human growth hormone and muscle recovery after a major injury.
Michigan’s scientists found that HGH use after ACL surgery “prevents the loss of muscle strength in the knee.” In two focus groups — one using the substance and another with placebo — there wasn’t a major muscular difference, but athletes taking HGH had 29% higher knee extension strength.
Cuban quickly amplified the study’s findings on Twitter.
“It’s time to recognize that HGH (Human Growth Hormone) can positively impact injury recovery,” Cuban tweeted. “I funded this study so that athletes can get back to full strength and doing what they love.”
In an article published on Michigan’s website, Christopher Mendias, Ph.D., ATC, the lead author of the study, explained why the substance has been outlawed and how leagues could legalize it. It still isn’t meant for recreational use, but there’s a way to allow athletes to use it as recovery aid.
“When you hear of athletes taking HGH drugs when they are healthy, it’s considered doping because they are essentially trying to overproduce the hormone and bulk their muscles and tissues as a competitive advantage,” Mendias said on the Michigan Heath Lab blog. “Perhaps athletes could petition for a Therapeutic Use Exception, which allows a banned substance for a medically-appropriate reason, to prevent loss of muscle strength after ACL reconstruction.
“Treatment occurs during a time when athletes are not playing due to their injuries. The goal is to prevent muscle weakness, not make athletes stronger than they were before their injuries. Any small performance-enhancing effects of human growth hormone seem to wear off quickly after stopping the medication, and does not offer a competitive advantage.”
Cuban echoed that on ESPN, saying the the only reason HGH remains illegal in hoops is because it’s on the World Anti-Doping Association’s banned substances list.
“There really was no research or complete logic for doing it,” Cuban said on The Jump. “So a couple of years ago, I said, ‘look, if there’s no data there to dismiss HGH, let’s find out if it can help for injury recovery because it’s been discussed as having that ability.’ So I worked with the University of Michigan and we put together a study, and as it turned out, comparing athletes vs. a placebo, there was a significant improvement in their recovery time and getting back to full strength. And so now, this is the first step towards offering data and hopefully the NBA, the Olympics and other leagues will look at this and say ‘let’s do some more studies.’ I’m willing to get involved with more studies financially, but if we can get the leagues to do it, the players I think will all be for it as long as you can prove that it’s safe.”