The news of Steven Wright’s 80-game suspension following a positive test for a performance-enhancing drug brought up a natural question: What is growth hormone releasing peptide-2 (GHRP-2)?
That was the drug Wright tested positive for. He has accepted his suspension, although he has denied knowingly using GHRP-2. In addition to missing 80 games, Wright will not be eligible to play in the postseason.
What is GHRP-2?
GHRP-2 is a synthetic peptide that stimulates the secretion of human growth hormone. Some athletes have been known to use it with the belief that it helps to recover from an injury faster, although no studies have been conducted to determine its recovery effects, according to Dr. Daniel Eichner, president of the Sports Medicine and Research Testing Laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“There’s one study that looked at the sprint times when they give growth hormone in concert with steroids,’’ said Eichner. “You absolutely do have more power in you. You’re able to run faster.
“But when you start talking about GHRP-2, it’s an unapproved drug. It’s not FDA approved. There’s no chance you’re doing any of those kinds of studies on GHRP-2 in the United States.’’
How is it taken?
GHRP-2 can be taken orally, and there’s a version that has been developed that can be taken via nose spray, but it is most commonly injected.
“GHRP-2 can have alternate forms and routes of administration,’’ said Eichner. “Am I aware of an athlete ever using it orally? No I’m not. Again, that doesn’t mean they haven’t, but I’m not aware of any cases.’’
Why would an athlete use it?
“If you think about other matters you heard about where athletes were caught using growth hormone, they use it because they think it has anabolic properties and also that it can help them recover faster from injury,’’ Eichner said. “Those would be the two main reasons why an athlete would use it.’’
It will be another abbreviated season for Wright, who was limited to five games in 2017 due to a knee injury. He had surgery and returned to action last May before the knee injury acted up again. He eventually had a second knee surgery in November and had been working his way back in spring training.
What now for Wright?
Per the MLB Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, Wright is ineligible to pitch in big league games during spring training but can pitch in B games that don’t charge admission. However, because he is still at an early stage of his pitching progression, it’s unlikely that he’ll be ready for games of any sort before the Red Sox break camp.
He will be able to stay with the team through spring training. Thereafter, in all likelihood, he’ll be in Fort Myers rehabbing until the final 15 days of the suspension, at which point he’s eligible to start pitching in games for minor league affiliates. Prior to those last 15 days, he’s allowed to participate in extended spring training games.
The suspension is without pay, and the penalty will cost him approximately $568,000.