…. Ouch

This is not the kind of news the Cardinals wanted to hear:

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel, baseball’s feel-good story of the season, received a 12-month supply of human growth hormone in 2004 from a Florida pharmacy that was part of a national illegal prescription drug-distribution operation, the Daily News has learned.

Ankiel, who flamed out mentally and physically as a pitcher earlier this decade, only to return to the majors as a slugging outfielder last month, has evoked comparisons this season to Roy Hobbs and Babe Ruth. He hit two home runs, a double and had seven RBI yesterday against the Pirates at Busch Stadium, giving him nine home runs in 81 at-bats since his remarkable major league comeback began on Aug. 10.

According to records obtained by The News and sources close to the controversy surrounding anti-aging clinics that dispense illegal prescription drugs, Ankiel received eight shipments of HGH from Signature Pharmacy in Orlando from January to December 2004, including the brand-name injectable drugs Saizen and Genotropin.

And, as David Pinto pointed out in his post, HGH doesn’t work:

…. there are no performance-enhancing benefits from using HGH in baseball. There is no documented evidence that HGH improves performance. While studies are sparse due to ethical limits, what studies have been done show that while growth hormone may promote muscle growth that it does not increase strength.

So Ankiel, if he did use HGH, chose poorly in his desperate efforts to revive his career.

UPDATE: The Starting Five is ranting and raving about this. It’s about time I’m not the only voice of reason:

…. STOP MAKING EXCUSES FOR RICK ANKIEL! With every word in defense of Ankiel, every writer who has advocated for the figurative or literal hanging of Barry Bonds can officially kiss my ass. All the sloth in the blog world, yeah all you who refused to conduct any real research into steroids and HGH and BALCO and Barry Bonds, who bought knee pads to “get down” with and on the, ummmm, jocks of the mainstream, what’s the excuse, now?

It was legal?

Sorry, Signature Pharmacy is the central player in the HGH investigation on Florida, not the do-gooder.

He’s a good guy?

Ankiel wasn’t known as too goood a guy when he was getting fried for having the yips and throwing fastballs 10 feet over everybody behind the plate’s heads? In fact, Ankiel got downright snarky, as well he should have.

See, the statement Peter Gammons made (see below) is true: unless you’ve spent the thousands of hours it takes to reach as high as you can possibly reach in the world of sports, you in no way can understand what athletes go through, what future body sacrifices are made just to get to where you end up in pro sports.

These guys are making me all teary-eyed. *sniff*

UPDATE, Part II: You can hear Ankiel not admitting that he did take HGH, and that he took it to recover from Tommy John surgery, and the Cardinals are standing behind him. Ummm…. yeah, that’s all well and good, except for the fact that Signature Pharmacy has been busted for illegally prescribing HGH and steroids to athletes, without meeting the athletes, or following normal, accepted protocol for prescribing drugs. So, Jocketty and the Cards standing behind him, and the reporters, (like Rob Neyer), rushing to his defense, are completely fucked up, completely wrong, and are engaged in the highest form of hypocrisy.

Add Troy Glaus’ name to the list of athletes who received shipments from Signature.

This is fucking awesome.

UPDATE, Part III: What the hell, let’s revisit what about another St. Louis Cardinal 3 fucking years ago:

…. hysterical media-types are fanning the flames of controversy; “Oh no, it looks like so and so really did do whatever it takes. Shame on him!” Please. Don’t insult my inteligence. Of course he or she did, what did you expect? The only difference between what one athlete will risk as opposed to another is based on their own personal decision-making values. As for their choice, I’d ask you; is it appropriate for one person to decide what another should be willing to risk? Is it OK for you to tell me what I should be willing to do to improve my life, my career, my earning potential? Not in my book, it isn’t, not as long as my actions don’t harm anyone else, or take from anyone else.

In the five years prior to 1997, Mark McGwire played 139, 27, 47, 104, and 130 games. Was it his use of andro (or steroids) that allowed him to play 156, 155 and 153 over the next three, hitting 58, 70 and 65 home runs? During those five injury-riddled seasons, he hit a home run every 9.44 AB’s. In the next three, in which he played almost every game, he hit a home run every 8.17 at bats, not a tremendous difference. He stopped using andro sometime during the end of the 1998 season, right? Only one full season later, he was back on the injured list, and his career was over by 2001.

If his use of andro enabled him to stay healthy enough and strong enough to get enough at bats to break Roger Maris’ record, how exactly was that wrong? Why should Mark McGwire give up his right to do whatever he can to help his body heal itself and stay strong enough to endure the rigors of baseball, his chosen profession? If there are risks involved, why shouldn’t he be the one to decide if they are worth it? It’s his life!

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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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