FanDuel - WFBC

September 07, 2007

Newspaper: Rick Ankiel Received Human Growth Hormone Shipments: Ankiel, the feel-good story in baseball this year after getting himself on the good side of earned runs (seven last night alone), ordered a 12-month supply of human growth hormone in 2004, according to an exclusive in today's New York Daily News. He allegedly received eight shipments of HGH from Signature Pharmacy, an Orlando firm that's at the center of an investigation into illegal online drug sales.

posted by rcade to baseball at 08:48 AM - 49 comments

Man, what an advertisement for the kiddo's. They have to look at these guys (Ankiel, Giambi, Rodney Harrison) and think...wow, this stuff really works. From their perspective, it allowed a pitcher suddenly to start hitting like AROD. They have to be thinking "Where do I sign up?"

posted by bdaddy at 09:24 AM on September 07

Well, this really oughta send the Bonds Hating Machine tripping over itself.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 09:28 AM on September 07

So he got HGH sent to his home 3 years ago, almost 4. It was still baseball legal. Develope a test for it or let it go.

posted by Debo270 at 09:29 AM on September 07

Good take on this from the Cardinals blog Via El Birdos. I largely agree with this: the next question is --- so what? he had a prescription for the drugs, and they're legal with a prescription; and he received them in 2004, before mlb instituted its formal prohibition on steroids. therefore, ankiel didn't break any rules or do anything wrong --- right? i might be willing to accept that interpretation if i heard it straight from ankiel's mouth. if he truly did nothing untoward and has nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of, then he can kill this story in a single day. if i were his pr advisor, i'd get him out in front of the microphones immediately --- call a press conference and sit rick down to tell his side of the story. i'd have him lay out the facts --- explain why he needed the drugs, what the medical benefit was, and how he didn't break any laws or any mlb rules. i'd have him state publicly that when mlb instituted its formal steroid ban in 2005, he stopped using the drugs. that'd make this story go fizz in a new york minute.

posted by holden at 09:44 AM on September 07

i'd have him lay out the facts --- explain why he needed the drugs, what the medical benefit was, and how he didn't break any laws or any mlb rules. The problem is that there are very, very few credible reasons for an adult to use HGH. It has to be a human growth deficiency and it is scientifically provable. In this link, it says that only 75,000 Americans suffer from a true HGH deficiency. So, it wasn't against the rules. Maybe he did it because he thought it would make him stronger. Hopefully, he stopped when MLB instituted an actual policy. I wish this quest to catch all who have ever used a performance-enhancing substance would stop. It's ruining the fun of this Ankiel story.

posted by bperk at 10:02 AM on September 07

zzzzzzz......yawn.....zzzzzzzzzzzz

posted by budman13 at 10:02 AM on September 07

/removes fingers from ears The reaction to Rodney Harrison (at least in New England) and what appears to be the reaction to Ankiel differs in a very interesting way from the reaction to Bonds, especially given the best proof of Bonds' guilt still seems to be his cranium. /reinserts fingers

posted by yerfatma at 10:11 AM on September 07

Well, I'm pretty sure that Ankiel was in the minors in 2004, therefore any steroid would be illegal. As for if HGH was specifically on the list, I haven't a clue, but for people to try and justify it when they would be the first to crucify Bonds smells of hypocrisy.

posted by yehyeh at 10:39 AM on September 07

I think the so-what crowd is making a mistake, because they're encouraging sport to become a test of pharmaceutical achievement, rather than athletic, at the considerable risk of the participants. I'd prefer a sports world that doesn't create an ever-growing number of Lyle Alzados. Athletes at the top of their sport are, by nature or necessity, obsessed with getting an edge on their competition. The more performance enhancing drugs are accepted as a means of obtaining that edge, the more athletes will feel it necessary to use them. And kids will do it, too. One of my high school friends used 'roids in ninth grade back in the '80s. I shudder to think of how many prep jocks are doing it today, when the attention and hype and money are so much greater.

posted by rcade at 10:55 AM on September 07

Ankiel blew out his elbow in July of 2003 and had Tommy John surgery, returning on the more or less standard one year timetable in mid-2004. While my understanding is that it is not an acceptable medical use in terms of the limited situations in which HGH can be properly prescribed, it would not surprise me if the HGH was used in connection with his rehab.

posted by holden at 11:27 AM on September 07

it would not surprise me if the HGH was used in connection with his rehab This is The Rodney Harrison Defense. How is that different from an uninjured player using something to move up the depth chart?

posted by yerfatma at 11:32 AM on September 07

How is that different from an uninjured player using something to move up the depth chart? I think the better question is how is it different than your eight-year old kid joining the army straight from Arsenal's youth team? I guess one distinction you could draw (and I'm not sure that the distinction merits any corresponding distinction in moral terms or in terms of whether any penalty or what penalty should be assessed) is that a rehabbing player might be seen as using drugs to get back to his baseline of health and performance, whereas an uninjured player is using drugs to exceed the baseline or move the baseline higher.

posted by holden at 11:52 AM on September 07

Canseco said at least 50% of MLB is on something. I beleive him. I bet we could have this talk about a lot of people in baseball. I really think it is time to give up this fight or test every player twice a month. The "roid" label has been pasted on a lot of people. I would like to hear what ankiel says about it. If he comes clean, like sean merriman did. it will be forgotten and people will move on. IF the swear to no end, (Barry Bonds style) that "I know nothing". People will go after him. Altimatly, the media will decide for us if we hate him or forgive him. Very few people have a real opinion of their own. Lets wait a little and see how the media tells us to feel.

posted by Debo270 at 12:29 PM on September 07

Of all the crazy proponents to the Rick Ankiel and Rodney Harrison HGH stories, the comment posted by holden holds the most water. I think an athlete under doctor’s supervision could be allowed to use drugs to get to a baseline strength and conditioning after an injury. Guess what? It's always been done that way. However, the problem with that argument is, how to define “baseline”. Also, Bonds is crucified not because of race/ethnicity as most in the media have tried to purport, but simply because he wasn’t a nice guy in the media’s critical lens. He let the pass (his father’s treatment in the MLB) dictate his behavior in the present. Harrison (black guy) and Ankeil (white guy) for all intented purposes are media darlings and therefore get a free pass followed by a public relations slap on the wrist. They play the game by understanding that they are a brand marketed by none other than the media. Is it immoral to judge the stories with such hypocrasy? Yes. However, sports reporters are not of the United Congregation of the Mediast. They report sports news with all the bias and spin of a watercooler conversation about the new receptionist in client relations. The story has got to sizzle because the alternative is an arkward walk by to the cubicle, hoping for a better story tomorrow. End of story…

posted by momplapa at 12:42 PM on September 07

I'd reply, holden, but the story just ended. Your comment about getting back to an established baseline makes sense to me. While it assumes the drugs would exactly do that and never improve a person, but in the age of Tommy John surgery that adds mph to fastballs, it's a pretty fuzzy line. In Harrison and Ankiels' cases, it feels like a simple matter of What's Fair, but that is too slippery a slope. Any venture onto it seems to lead to open season for performance enhancement.

posted by yerfatma at 01:09 PM on September 07

Yerfatma, it seems to me that we are already on that slope and trying to figure out how far we are willing to slip. Sometimes it feels like any trick is okay so long as a there is surgeon present. As far as baseball goes, if you give me one guy who started taking HGH and another who has recently had laser eye surgery and that's all I know about them, I'm taking the eye guy. The number of guys whose careers have blossomed after that surgery is pretty telling. (Of course, I also operate under the assumption that if a guy just started taking HGH he must be hurt.) I realize this is fast becoming a hackneyed argument regarding PEDs, but I do still think it stands up. How much medicine is too much medicine? The acceptable level clearly has to be between 0 and 100%. Personally, I think it is bizarre that our culture puts a taboo on HGH but totally green-lights Viagra. (Disclaimer: I routinely claim the rye in my pocket is for medicinal purposes, when in fact it is for posting enhancement.)

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 01:35 PM on September 07

Altimatly, the media will decide for us if we hate him or forgive him. Yo debo -- you work for Nissan?

posted by holden at 01:36 PM on September 07

Add Troy Glaus to the list.

posted by holden at 02:03 PM on September 07

I also heard that while rehabbing Ankiel may have participated in dog fighting and wrote a book about being gay in the NBA.

posted by gradys_kitchen at 02:31 PM on September 07

Ultimately, the media will decide for us if we hate him or forgive him. Very few people have a real opinion of their own. Lets wait a little and see how the media tells us to feel You may have said this facetiously, but I couldn't agree more.

posted by bdaddy at 02:38 PM on September 07

Personally, I'm pissed. Yet another athlete shows us why we cannot emotionally invest into any of them. There is no defense. He cheated, if it was just to get healthy or if it was to bulk up. Think how many pitchers had to heal from TJ surgery without the benefit of HGH. Now I will have to eat my words if it is proven that Ankiel actually needs HGH, but that is a slim possibility. So until we as fans get a Merriman or Giambi-ish apology I say to hell with Ankiel.

posted by Steel_Town at 02:50 PM on September 07

From the link provided by catfish: "while steroids cause a bevy of nasty side effects—testicular shrinkage, an increased risk of stroke—taking HGH doesn't seem to be that bad for you" Certainly contradicts everything I've ever heard about it.

posted by bdaddy at 02:56 PM on September 07

I say we make performance inhancing drugs legal in sports. For no other reason than not having to read anymore articles about it.

posted by Slaptastic at 03:02 PM on September 07

He cheated, if it was just to get healthy or if it was to bulk up. Technically he didn't. HGH was not a banned substance by the MLB when he took it.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 03:04 PM on September 07

That's right....if it wasn't banned or illegal when he did it...it's not cheating or breaking any law......if they ban mountain dew tomorrow I did nothing wrong by drinking it today.......whole thing is a non story.....

posted by shudacudawuda at 03:21 PM on September 07

well, drinking mountain dew may be wrong, even if it's not unlawful. unless it's code red, luv dat sh$t.

posted by lawn_wrangler at 03:29 PM on September 07

Personally, I'm pissed. Yet another athlete shows us why we cannot emotionally invest into any of them. There is no defense. He cheated Did he sign a contract with you? Would you have sent him a stiped if he didn't use HGH and never made it back? I think what you meant is: "Yet another human being whom, simply because they're famous, we feel fit to judge and find wanting."

posted by yerfatma at 03:47 PM on September 07

If he hasn't taken the stuff in over two years... does it really cast a shadow on his achievements this season? To me, not really. Holden, I like your argument.

posted by igottheblues at 03:57 PM on September 07

"Yet another human being whom, simply because they're famous, we feel fit to judge and find wanting." Or not. Could be another human being who we wanted to believe was better than us, but turned out is just the same (or only slightly better). I think they're all as rubbish as I am, just with more money, so I don't get pissed.

posted by lawn_wrangler at 04:10 PM on September 07

Technically he didn't. HGH was not a banned substance by the MLB when he took it. No one has trouble rejecting this argument when we are talking about Bonds. Using HGH for any off-label purposes is prohibited by federal law.

posted by bperk at 04:10 PM on September 07

Or not. Could be another human being who we wanted to believe was better than us, but turned out is just the same (or only slightly better). Depends on how you define better. Personality wise, who knows perhaps you're ten times the man Ankiel is morally. Athletically Ankiel would still be above and beyond the vast majority of us even if he didn't take HGH.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 04:15 PM on September 07

Using HGH for any off-label purposes is prohibited by federal law. Plus, isn't there a whole "fraudulent prescription" issue? I don't know those laws that well, so I'm not versed in the "patient's" culpability there.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 04:22 PM on September 07

I think they're all as rubbish as I am I don't have any problem with that. What I have a problem with is acting like they've disappointed The Collective Us, especially when The Collective Us includes me, so I know the average level of righteousness is fairly low. Could be another human being who we wanted to believe was better than us If that's what it is, it doesn't sound like Ankiel's the one with the issue.

posted by yerfatma at 04:22 PM on September 07

I think they're all as rubbish as I am, just with more money, so I don't get pissed. After wading through countless comments by irate sports fans who take it too personally when their sports heroes "let them down," I have to compliment you for taking this tired sentiment and serving up a pipin' hot cup of greatness.

posted by rcade at 04:26 PM on September 07

If that's what it is, it doesn't sound like Ankiel's the one with the issue. Indeed. Paul Simon (pop ups) once wryly noted "the cross is in the ballpark." I'm planning to teach my kids better than that. Maybe they can look up to politicians instead?

posted by lawn_wrangler at 05:20 PM on September 07

Plus, isn't there a whole "fraudulent prescription" issue? I don't know those laws that well, so I'm not versed in the "patient's" culpability there. Ask Rush Limbaugh. I gotta agree in part with lawn wrangler (whose comment about us all being rubbish, is incidentally, all theological in a Homer Simpson kind of way) -- we are being set up for disappointment if we choose to view athletes as somehow being morally superior or being held to a higher moral standard. This one is tricky because the whole Ankiel thing has taken on a level of mythology and we want him to succeed and be above the fray on this stuff. I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt largely because I'm a Cardinals homer but also because of the fact that HGH does not explain just what amazing talent it takes to be an upper echelon big league pitcher and an above average (for at least a month) big league hitter all in the same person and because this is distant enough and around the time of a major rehab that perhaps it was just limited to back then. And while I'm sympathetic to the argument that, like it or not, these guys are role models in some sense because of the stature of sports in American culture, I still think that parents should bear the bulk of responsibility in educating their kids as to who the right role models are in terms of emulating behaviors and moral example.

posted by holden at 05:42 PM on September 07

we are being set up for disappointment if we choose to view athletes as somehow being morally superior or being held to a higher moral standard This, much like l_w's backup plan, politicians, is where Modern Life fails us: we want idols. We need them. Not because we're big golden calf fans, but because it's a helpful hack to make ourselves better: "What Would Ted Williams do?" With the infoglut of the the 24 hour news cycle, it's hard to ignore every person you set up as a hardass, never-fail, stand-up guy* is not. Almost none of us are. But it doesn't help to be reminded on a daily basis. Nomar was the last time I even bothered and he turned out to be a dick. Oh well.

posted by yerfatma at 05:52 PM on September 07

"What Would Ted Williams do?" I believe he'd tell the press to go fuck themselves, and then invite your girlfriend out on the floor to jitterbug.

posted by wfrazerjr at 06:14 PM on September 07

We need them. Not because we're big golden calf fans, but because it's a helpful hack to make ourselves better I think we also need them just so we can stop rationalizing our mediocrity. Where's the harm in my being a lazy underachiever if the alternative requires compromising a whole other set of values?

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 08:38 PM on September 07

where Modern Life fails us: we want idols. We need them. I don't think there's anything particularly modern about it. I think the impulse to tell stories and to create mythologies has the same anthropological roots as the athlete worship of modern times. Probably wouldn't kill us to return to some of those 'lofty tales so tried and true' which disappoint much less than professional athletes.

posted by lawn_wrangler at 09:01 PM on September 07

From their perspective, it allowed a pitcher suddenly to start hitting like AROD. They have to be thinking "Where do I sign up?" Actually, Rick Ankiel was a VERY good hitter in high school, which is why his transformation from pitcher to outfielder wasn't such a crazy idea in the first place.

posted by grum@work at 09:42 PM on September 07

"What Would Ted Williams do?" I believe he would say "damn, it's cold in here, and where's the rest of me?"

posted by tommytrump at 10:06 PM on September 07

Here is what Rick Ankiel had to say about all of this fuss. Personally I liked the part about the patient doctor relationship, and if the media was going to make him break that seal. So what now, suppose he is telling the truth, I tend to believe him. When it happened it was not against the rules. The media knows that also, so why post this story the day after the guy smacks 2 home runs and drives in 7 RBI? They even knew he didn't receive them at his home or sign for them himself. Why no more about the doc, or the pharmacy? Are they even suspected of dealing HGH or any other PED to any pro athlete while the substance was banned from their sport? Sorry, just some questions I'd think the writer would have been interested in finding out.

posted by jojomfd1 at 11:13 PM on September 07

Since when are reporters interested in finding out the truth? Never, ever let the truth get in the way of a chance to throw mud at some one.

posted by budman13 at 11:16 PM on September 07

if i were his pr advisor, i'd get him out in front of the microphones immediately --- call a press conference and sit rick down to tell his side of the story. Judging from jojo's link, that's pretty much what he did. It sounds like he consulted a doctor, and a doctor prescribed his cure. At the point at which athletes are putting their health in the hands of medical professionals, what responsibility do they still have?

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 11:42 PM on September 07

I don't think there's anything particularly modern about it. I think the impulse to tell stories and to create mythologies has the same anthropological roots as the athlete worship of modern times. Sorry if I stated it badly, but what I meant was that Modern Life changed this relationship since we get a much better view of our idols and their failings. It makes it hard to build the myths we need.

posted by yerfatma at 08:39 AM on September 08

At the point at which athletes are putting their health in the hands of medical professionals, what responsibility do they still have? I'm not a medical expert, but HGH sounds like quack medicine that few reputable doctors would prescribe a young athlete. According to the New York Daily News today, the current FDA position is that doctors should only be prescribing it to people with serious hormone deficiencies or AIDS wasting disease. Also, what responsible doctor would prescribe a 12-month supply? That doesn't add up. My guess is that Ankiel doctor-shopped to get what he wanted, and is now throwing said doctor -- Dr. William Gogan, a Palm Beach physician with several recent malpractice claims -- under the bus.

posted by rcade at 11:05 AM on September 08

Okay - anyone who suggests that there is a legitimate medical reason for him to take HGH is, well, wrong. He "cheated" - by the same standard that Bonds "cheated" (in that, they both used substances that were not tested for at the time, and the application of drug testing was vague). That they are not held to the same standard, is less revealing about them then it is us.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:06 PM on September 08

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