Did Tiger Woods Use Human Growth Hormone?

by Stephen Altschuler on July 19, 2011

The words Human Growth Hormone are key to this question. If I used the word steroids, it would be much more confusing and confounding. A growth hormone is a steroid but it is so much more descriptive of what it does to the body. A growth hormone causes the body to grow, i.e. muscles and musculature. For athletes in the 21st century, the prospect of growing muscle mass is tempting, offering the possibility of hitting whatever ball they’re hitting farther with more record shattering results, which is exactly what happened with the likes of Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire.

As for golf, the same temptations lure the ambitious player, and, arguably, no player in the history of golf has been more ambitious than Tiger Woods. When Woods turned pro in 1996, the world knew immediately that something special was on the horizon and headed towards shore. He won the Walt Disney World that year, following that with four wins in ’97, including the memorable Masters, where he won by 12 shots. From then on, he amassed a record surpassed only by Jack Nicklaus. He won eight times in ’99, including the PGA. And in 2000, Woods recorded nine victories, including the U.S. Open, the British Open, and the PGA. At this point, Woods must have considered that Jack’s iconic record of 18 majors was within reach, but only, perhaps, with help from chemistry.

In 2008, the tour initiated random drug testing for all its players, in response to wide spread doping scandals that hit baseball and bicycle racing. Between 2000 and 2008, the body of Tiger Woods witnessed a dramatic increase in bulk, so much so that he had to construct a new swing three times during that period. The increased muscle mass occurred in his upper torso, leaving his notoriously thin legs as spindly as ever. His legs could not fully support that added bulk, and Woods developed knee problems as a result along with the tremendous pressure put on his left knee from an ever increasing swing speed. He has had four reconstructive surgeries between 1994 and 2008. After he won the ’08 U.S. Open on a broken leg, he was out for eight months, at a time when drug testing had just started on tour. Did he plan this hiatus to avoid the random tests?

During this time, Woods was seen by a Canadian sports doctor named Dr. Anthony Galea from Toronto who was sought out by the biggest names in sports. On July 6, 2011, Galea pleaded guilty in federal court to bringing unapproved drugs, including human growth hormone, into the United States to treat professional athletes. Galea, who wasn’t licensed to practice medicine in the United States, was accused of treating 20 professionals athletes at their homes, hotels, and friends’ houses from October 2007 to September 2009. An Associated Press story stated “The indictment did not identify any clients, but prosecutors said they included golfers and professional baseball and football players.”  The AP story went on to say “Most of the U.S. charges were dismissed with Galea’s pleas, and he agreed to cooperate with investigators and disclose the identities of his patients and their treatments.”

Tiger Woods admitted to seeing Galea in his Orlando home, but not to receive human growth hormone. He claims it was plasma therapy to help restore his knee, a treatment that could have been obtained from a U.S. licensed doctor. Both Galea and Woods have since denied administering or receiving PED’s (Performance Enhancing Drugs). Are they telling the truth? Well, Galea pleaded guilty to lying to Canadian border agents; and Tiger Woods initially denied having affairs with prostitutes or having any difficulties with his wife. Is Woods telling the truth about using steroids supplied by Dr. Galea between 2007 and 2009? You be the judge.

Why do I bring this up at this time? It was Galea’s guilty plea that spurred me to action. So much pointed to the very real possibility of Tiger Woods using steroids, human growth hormone, performance enhancing drugs–they’re all the same–that I felt that the integrity of the game of golf was on the line. And if golf is anything, it is a game of integrity and honesty. I’ve said it before that golf is the only game where a player is obligated to call penalties on him or herself. Using drugs that improve one’s ability to hit a golf ball farther, to have more stamina over a grueling four round tournament, and to build body mass are about as gross a violation of the spirit of the game as there is. By bringing up these allegations, I am defending golf itself via this investigative editorial. I cannot say for sure that Woods used performance enhancing drugs but I have suspicion that he did, based on the facts I’ve presented. Woods and Galea are both known to have lied. Of course, they will try and have tried to cover this up, and make their denials. But observation of Tiger’s body, performance, and erratic, reckless behavior, point to his being influenced by powerful drugs administered by a Canadian doctor who has pleaded guilty–I repeat, who has pleaded guilty–to smuggling illegal, performance enhancing drugs into the United States and administering them to “golfers, and professional baseball and football players.”

The defense of golf rests.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

THE Steve July 19, 2011 at 6:48 am

I completely agree that golf is about integrity and, while I have nonproof of wrongdoing, I do believe that were these allegations true it would represent a low point for golf. At least, in a week where we saw a true deserving champion win the British Open, we have good examples of great golfers who comport themselves with dignity as they play great golf. You are right to bring this up…but I am glad that golf always throws up greater champions like Darren Clarke, Phil Mickelson, and many others who are a good as they are decent. They are what golf is about and a great example for us all.

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Stephen Altschuler July 23, 2011 at 10:23 am

Well said, Steve. And thanks for the comments. Yes, golf continues to produce great champions and human beings of high integrity, honesty, and dedication. If Woods is guilty of these allegations, it will be a blow to golf, but golf will survive it because no one miscreant, even if it’s Tiger Woods himself, is bigger than the game itself.

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stuart July 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm

fantastic post.

it’s telling that the sports media are far less interested in this story which casts doubt on woods’ achievements than they were in the story of his affairs. sport is the goose that lays golden eggs for the media, tv networks, cable and print media all rely on sports to drive revenue and have no interest in exposing the prevalent doping culture.

the only two major sports which have attempted to get to grips with doping are mlb due to sanctity of records in the minds of writers and fans and pro cycling due to riders dropping dead at an alarming rate. golf writers along with their colleagues from tennis, basketball, ice hockey, gridiron, soccer and boxing are happy to let the good times roll and turn a blind eye to clear corruption.

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Stephen Altschuler July 23, 2011 at 10:29 am

Thanks for the comments, Stuart. You’ve nailed it, for sure. The media have a vested, financial interest in not pursuing these questions about Tiger Woods. Woods has buttered their bread for years and they want more butter and more bread. It’s shameful that no investigative journalist has turned over some rocks to expose the darker stories behind the story. Much more light has to be beamed on this potentially explosive .

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richard July 19, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Good post Stephen. I believe that Tiger is facing the reality of finding that after abusing his body for so long that he will have to change his whole perspective of how to play golf. He will have to change his swing from a hitter to a swinger using perhaps weaker shafts and putting less pressure on his left knee. He has amazing touch with his short game and if he can diminish his ego and be not the longest off the tee but the straightest, he might start winning again. Perhaps a year in a buddhist monastery would help.

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Stephen Altschuler July 23, 2011 at 10:33 am

Thanks for the comments, Richard. A Buddhist retreat would be helpful, I’m sure, but Woods is in such deep mud at this point, that he has created his own hell on earth. Hell and heaven are in the mind, and Tiger’s mind, and body, are deep in the flames. The man is so out of balance, I don’t know how he lives with himself.

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how to growth hormone March 7, 2012 at 6:11 am

Aw, this was a really good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to make a very good article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and don’t manage to get nearly anything done.

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chris January 16, 2013 at 6:34 am

Steroids don’t help you make putts/scramble, which was arguably the greatest part of Tiger’s game while he was untouchable.

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Stephen Altschuler January 16, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Ah, but they do help drive the ball farther, which shortens the club needed to reach the green, which makes the birdie and eagle putts shorter, which lowers the score, which helps win more majors, which was precisely what Woods was, and is, obsessed with.
Thank you for the comment.

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Chauncey January 30, 2013 at 5:57 am

Of course Tiger used HGH. It’s really not debateable. He is incredibly vein as well as competitive (which is well documented) HGH is better known in Hollywood circles as “anti-aging”, and the best cocktails are not cheap, which leads to the “why doesn’t everyone do it” argument. I love your reasoning for Tigers swing changes, which makes so much sense.

And Tiger doesn’t care about the integrity of the game, he cares about Tiger.
He will always look for an edge until he retires….

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Peter Ernest August 13, 2013 at 8:09 am

Let’s see does Tiger have roid temper tantrums on the Golf course? Why yes he does? Roids also increase your libido. Well we all know what happened there with Tiger. Roids also give users an incredible mental focus. Wasn’t that Tigers advantage over every other golfer. Funny how he lost his mental edge got lost when Golf started testing. Also his workout partner in a Muscle and Fitness article on him was none other than Alex Rodriguez. Tiger was cheating big time.

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Stephen Altschuler August 14, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Good points, Peter. Keep digging. All the evidence points to his doping. That’s really interesting that he trained with ARod.
Thanks for commenting.

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kevin December 31, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Written like a man who has a bone to pick but no real facts to back up his accusations. Keep trying. You may get there yet.

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Stephen Altschuler December 31, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Right. Eventually Lance ‘fessed up too, with “no real facts.” The truth will be revealed over time.
Thanks for taking the time to comment, Kevin.

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