Expert: Swisher's supplement raises no concerns about PEDs
A series of tweets disseminated by Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher on Saturday, praising a "favorite supplement of many of my teammates and fellow athletes," struck an anti-doping expert as nothing more than "marketing ploy" and raised no concerns regarding illegal performance-enhancing substances.
Swisher, whose home-run production this season - 29 - is perfectly in line with his six-season average in the major leagues, declared, "Y'all need to check this stuff out. ... This stuff will do the trick," and directed Twitter readers to a Web site for gHP Sport.
The product's company, SomaLife of Cape Coral, Fla., claims that gHP Sport is a nutritional supplement that, taken orally, "allows the pituitary gland to produce agents that assist in cell regeneration and repair." NPROS.com described gHP Sport as "marketed as an athletic performance enhancement product [but] verified to contain NO athletic banned substances."
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Aside from the recent Swisher endorsements, a collection of former professional athletes, including basketball's Jerry Lucas, baseball's Gary Carter and football's Jim McMahon, can be found in on-line video testimonials for gHP.
With gHP, a combination of amino acids theoretically causes the pituitary gland to naturally produce HGH, which in synthetic form is banned by sports bodies as performance boosting. But SomaLife also claimes that gHP is "WADA reviewed," implying that the World Anti-Doping Agency has endorsed its use with no danger of a positive drug test.
Dr. Gary Wadler, the Manhasset-based sports and drugs expert who is chairman of the board that produces the annual prohibited substances list issued by WADA, said he did not want to "speak about this product specifically."
But he pointed out that WADA "does not endorse" any product and, furthermore, the substance described by SomaLife would not offer any performance boost. There is medical proof, he said, that "certain amino acid products can transiently increase the production of human growth hormone, but it is of no value in terms of producing sustained increases in HGH" - which works like a steroid in building muscle mass and facilitating quick recovery from physical exertion.
For any HGH production to be triggered in the pituitary gland, Wadler said, the amino acids would have to be "administered by vein. It is a quantum leap to say, if you take this by mouth you will have sustained increase in HGH, and thus performance is enhanced.
"We have no evidence that taking these amino acids is performance enhancing. I've always said, if you want to make a lot of money, get yourself a chemist, a Madison Avenue marketing firm and a superstar to promote these things.
"If these guys [believing the product improves their performance] want to waste their money. ..."