Just five days ago Cleveland Indians pitcher, Paul Byrd, helped his team beat the Boston Red Sox giving the Indians a 3-1 series lead. Now he finds himself on the front page again, this time linked to nearly $25 000 worth of human growth hormone.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Byrd was prescribed and sent more than 1000 vials of human growth hormone and hundreds of syringes between August 2002 and January 2005 while a member of the Royals and Braves. Receipts showed Byrd spent $24 850 on hGH prescriptions through the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center, an anti-aging clinic that was investigated for illegally distributing anabolic steroids and hGH with bogus prescriptions. PBRC vice president, Joe Raich, and Dr. Robert Carlson, a physician associated with the clinic, have both pleaded guilty to felony drug and fraud charges in the case.
Byrd’s story is a bit different from others connected to anti-aging clinics in Florida. For one, Byrd admitted using the human growth hormone, and two, Byrd may have had a legitimate reason to take the drugs. The following day Byrd explained his drug use maintaining that they were only used under “a doctor’s care and supervision.” As mentioned many times at this site, this is an extremely flimsy excuse for acquiring hGH from an anti-aging clinic. The Chronicle touched on the legal uses for the drug.
Human growth hormone is a powerful medicine used to treat dwarfism in children and AIDS wasting disease. It is illegal to use the drug without a valid prescription and a doctor's supervision. It also is illegal for doctors to prescribe growth hormone for uses not specifically approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Adult growth hormone deficiency is one of the F.D.A. approved uses for human growth hormone.
Byrd told FOX sports’ Ken Rosenthal that his deficiency was legitimate but didn’t explain why he got two prescriptions from a dentist who later had his license suspended in 2003 for “fraud and incompetence.”
Byrd said that three different doctors diagnosed him as suffering from adult growth-hormone deficiency. In spring training, he said, he was diagnosed with a tumor on his pituitary gland at the base of his brain, a condition that may have contributed to his deficiency, doctors told him.
"The Indians, my coaches and MLB have known that I have had a pituitary gland issue for some time and have assisted me in getting blood tests in different states. I am currently working with an endocrinologist and will have another MRI on my head after the season to make sure that the tumor hasn't grown."
Rosenthal quoted some interesting passages from Byrd’s yet to be released book, The Free Byrd Project.
"At the insistence of a close friend, I went and had my hormones checked… To my surprise, the doctor told me that I was producing very little growth hormone and prescribed a dosage to help me out. I didn't like sticking a needle in my inner thigh each night but I sure did enjoy the sleep that occurred afterwards. My life changed during that time and I was able to work out more, experience less fatigue and recover quicker from pitching.”
"Like the other temptations that I've mentioned in this book, I had a new one to deal with one night when I stuck that needle in the hormone-filled bottle. I wondered if I doubled my prescribed dose, whether or not I would throw harder and have a better and possibly longer career. After all, I had a prescription.”
"Some strange silent voices ran across my brain and had conversations with me as I pulled back the syringe. I remember having thoughts that doing better on the field could mean more money for my family, my charities and even supporting churches. Then I prayed and realized that God was in control of my life and he wouldn't want me making money through cheating the system."
Like most stories from the Steroid Era, Byrd’s is full of contradictions. If Byrd’s hHG use was warranted by a legitimate growth hormone deficiency, why did he receive two prescriptions from a dentist? Why didn’t he get a waiver from Major League Baseball? Why isn’t he still using it now?