In the discussion of HGH use by the Cardinals' Rick Ankiel, media and baseball pundits say that performance enhancing drugs were not banned before 2003/4. If that statement is accurate, then MLB allowed illegal drug use. Professional sports, although not following through with a comprehensive anti-doping testing program, long ago prohibited the use of anabolic illegal drugs in players and other personnel.
Also heard frequently, and just as inaccurate, is 'HGH is used for injury rehab'.
Baseball clearly banned illegal drugs (logic tells you illegal drugs are 'a priori' banned anyway) in 1991 (see image of memo) when Fay Vincent reigned as commissioner. Commissioner Vincent stated "the use of illegal drugs by players, office personal, trainers or anyone else involved in the game cannot be condoned or tolerated" (see image to the left; reference here). That means any black market drugs, such as cocaine or anabolic steroids are prohibited. That includes illegal use of unethically prescribed drugs like HGH for faddish 'recovery' indications. The Vincent memo says violators are subject to unspecified discipline.
In 1997, Commissioner Bud Selig, essentially copied Vincent's memo reiterating that illegal drugs are prohibited in the pro baseball. The memo specifies the policy, testing, and possible punishment (to the right, and above reference).
HGH is not approved for any PED use, nor for injury recovery. (Reference here; see below) A doctor's prescription for an adult athlete raises serious issues, and may lead to criminal prosecution (as with Dr Shortt who prescribed HGH to the Carolina Panthers' players)
Signature used a quasi-prescribing scheme, noted here:
The document charges two people with conspiracy, illegal distribution of human-growth hormone and other steroids as well as health-care fraud. It also states Daniel McGlone of American Pharmaceutical Group in New Jersey peddled the drugs to bodybuilders and used Signature to fill prescriptions written by unlicensed or retired physicians.
"McGlone would forward these prescriptions via facsimile or mail to various large compounding pharmacies, including primarily Signature Pharmacy . . . to deliver human growth hormone, anabolic steroids and other prescription medications to customers all over the United States," the indictment reads.
We will develop a longer post on the prescribing practices and logic behind these drugs. Suffice it to say that there has never been adequate research, nor an FDA indication, for using HGH as an aid when rehabbing athletic injuries. The anti-aging clinic scams do not legitimize, nor legalize the use of HGH or anabolic steroids to rehab sports injuries (reference here).
The anti-doping milestone of 2003 (or 2004 when testing began), oft referred to in media reports, is simply the year that MLB decided to implement a more serious PED testing program. The current anti-doping program is not perfect: As Victor Conte of BALCO fame says "You can drive a Mack truck through the current anti-doping program loopholes". To say that HGH or anabolic steroids were allowed in Major League Baseball before 2004 is both inaccurate and misleading.
Here is an excellent reference on debunking the anti-aging effect of HGH.