Former NBA coach George Karl believes with a high-degree of certainty that there are many professional basketball players who are using anabolic steroids and human growth hormone (hGH) and getting away with it. Karl wrote that it was “obvious” that steroids were a problem in the NBA in his new book titled “Furious George: My Forty Years Surviving NBA Divas, Clueless GMs, and Poor Shot Selection.”
“We’ve got a more thorough drug-testing program than the NFL or MLB, which we always brag about. But we’ve still got a drug issue, though a different one than thirty years ago. And this one bothers me more than the dumbasses who got in trouble with recreational drugs.
“I’m talking about performance-enhancing drugs—like steroids, human growth hormone, and so on. It’s obvious some of our players are doping. How are some guys getting older—yet thinner and fitter? How are they recovering from injuries so fast?”
Of all the coaches in the National Basketball Association (NBA), Karl should have some insight on the matter. After all, his professional coaching career has spanned five different decades from 1978 until 2016. Some of the teams he coached included teams affiliated with the NBA, the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) and the EuroLeague e.g. San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Seattle SuperSonics, Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings, Albany Patroons and Real Madrid. He must have seen or at least been aware of any steroid use by some of the hundreds of players he coached.
Unfortunately, if readers expected Karl to identify players who juiced in the style of Jose Canseco’s “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big”, then they will be sorely disappointed. Karl avoided leveling any accusations at the players that he coached. However, Karl not so subtlely implied that at least some players who competed on opposing teams were guilty of using prohibited substances.
“Why the hell are they going to Germany in the off-season? I doubt it’s for the sauerkraut. More likely it’s for the newest, hard-to-detect blood boosters and PEDs they have in Europe.”
The reference to off-season visits to Germany was a clear reference to former NBA star Kobe Bryant. Bryant popularized an experimental treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee known as Orthokine or Regenokine. The minimally-invasive knee surgery is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Consequently, athletes must travel to Germany to visit Dr. Peter Wehling, the spinal surgeon who pioneered the procedure. Orthokine has been approved in Germany since 2003. Orthokine is known as the “Kobe Procedure” by athletes.
Bryant isn’t the only NBA player who made off-season visits to Germany. Gilbert Arenas, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut, Andrew Bynum, Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady, Greg Oden, Jermaine O’Neal, and Brandon Roy are among the growing list of NBA players who have undergone the “Kobe procedure”.
Karl is apparently convinced that these players have chosen Germany as a summer travel destination for the nefarious goal of seeking undetectable anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.
Sadly, the truth is that Karl is completely talking out his ass and has no insight or evidence of steroid use by any players. Several NBA players have impressive physiques that many fans have speculated may have been assisted by steroids such as LeBron James, Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, Serge Ibaka and Andre Iguodala. But these players have never failed a drug test and there has been no evidence to suggested they are juicers.
In spite of periodic proclamations of rampant steroid by former players like Derrick Rose and Charles Barkley and most recently by former coach Karl, there have only been three NBA players who have ever tested positive for steroids in the history of the NBA i.e. Hedo Turkoglu (Primobolan), Rashard Lewis (testosterone) and O.J. Mayo (DHEA).
There could very well be some more steroid users in the NBA but Karl doesn’t add any credible information to this discussion. The unsubstantiated allegations are likely just intended to generate more interest in and increase sales of his new book.