When Gary “Sarge” Matthews, who is now a broadcaster with the Philadelphia Phillies, heard that his son had been busted in an HGH sting, he tried to look on the bright side.
Sarge said his son would address the media — eventually. And that at least Junior hadn’t failed any drug tests.
While Sarge’s statement was true — Matthews, Jr. hasn’t failed any tests — it reminds us that most people still don’t understand the difference between steroids and HGH. And there is a difference.
You inject steroids, which promote cell growth and result in an increase in muscle.
You ingest or apply HGH, which promotes the formation of new cells, leading to an increase in muscle and a loss of fat.
In short: steroids = bigger cells; HGH = more cells. Both = bigger guns.
But the most important difference between steroids and HGH, for the purposes of this discussion, is that players get tested for steroids. MLB currently has no way to test for HGH. That’s why it’s silly for Sarge Matthews to say that his son isn’t guilty because he hasn’t tested positive.
Of course, it’s not quite that simple. David Bell, who last played for the Brewers in 2006 and is currently unemployed, was busted for reportedly receiving shipments of Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which is pretty similar to HGH, but not exactly the same. Here’s some info about HCG, courtesy of Philadelphia Inquirer baseball writer Jim Salisbury:
Usage for females: To treat ovarian disorders, or obesity. Also used for pregnancy tests.
Usage by athletes: Used during and after steroid cycles to maintain testosterone production. Some steroid users find that they have some of their best strength and size gains while using HCG in conjunction with the steroids. This product is not picked up on steroid tests, so some athletes use it after abruptly stopping steroid use to keep androgen levels high before drug testing.