Segui's road trips for hGH lack muscle of credibility

June 23, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

I don't understand why everyone is so skeptical about David Segui and his explanation for using human growth hormone, though I have to admit that I was a little concerned when I found out they don't have any doctors in Kansas.

That's kind of a big deal, especially if you have kids. Sometimes you need a doctor for a legitimate medical condition and not everyone is rich enough to fly to Florida every time they need a legitimate blood test or a completely legal prescription.

Segui had plenty of money. He signed a four-year, $28 million contract with the Orioles in 2000, and nobody would have had to go all the way to Florida to find a legitimate psychiatrist to certify that Syd Thrift had gone completely insane, but that's a separate issue.

The fact that there were no doctors in his hometown of Kansas City, Kan. -- and certainly no endocrinologists (it's the Midwest, for goodness sake) -- wasn't a big problem for Segui, who knew a guy in Florida who is so legitimate that he blacks out his name on prescriptions because he doesn't want any more business.

Can't draw any conclusions from that. Lots of doctors write legitimate prescriptions for highly controversial and possibly performance-enhancing drugs and don't want their names revealed for completely legitimate reasons. How do you think I get my amphetamines?

(C'mon, that was a joke. Sarcasm is totally lost on you people.)

The only thing that bothers me about Segui's completely legal use of hGH is the price he had to pay for it. The receipt that he faxed to The Sun showed that his six vials of the magic potion cost a total of nearly $2,000.

I could have sworn that the Major League Baseball Players Association had one of the best health plans in the world and this guy has to shell out two grand for a completely legitimate, legally prescribed medication? I've got basic Blue Cross coverage and the most I ever have to come up with for my steroids is a $60 co-pay.

The only thing I can figure out is that Segui was injured so many times during his career that he used up his lifetime maximum benefit.

No matter what you think of all this, you have to give Segui credit for being smarter than the average potential target of the ongoing federal investigation into the use and distribution of performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports. He got out in front of the scandal, and he created just enough plausible deniability that he's going to fade into the background when the rest of the names in the now-infamous Jason Grimsley affidavit are revealed.

Segui outed himself to ESPN, then contacted The Sun and spent a day or so doing radio interviews to spread his highly questionable side of the story. If Rafael Palmeiro had shown that kind of PR savvy last August, he'd still be headed to the Hall of Fame.

The sad fact of the matter is, if you have enough money, you probably can get a prescription for just about anything. Segui also revealed the results of a blood test that purports to show that he was deficient in human growth hormone, though no one who ever saw him in the prime of his career would have suspected that he was lacking in any chemical or glandular secretion necessary for muscle growth.

There is a movement afoot to promote synthetic hGH as an anti-aging drug and there are doctors (some with actual medical degrees) who are prescribing it for reasons other than the two truly legitimate ailments -- dwarfism and muscle wasting from cancer or AIDS -- that it is manufactured to treat.

Segui obviously found one of those guys, which should insulate him from prosecution if the feds decide to start indicting people for illegally acquiring hGH, but his admission has left Orioles management squirming again ... just months after Palmeiro's positive steroid test and vitamin B12 revelations cast an ugly steroid shadow over the team.

Here's an unsolicited piece of advice for Orioles upper management: Every time you put out a statement written by club attorneys to avoid honest discussion of a controversial subject, you look like you're hiding something.

Personally, I think the Orioles organization is more victim than villain here, and I understand that Major League Baseball has instructed teams not to talk about the George Mitchell investigation, but team officials have got to stand up and vigorously counter the perception that their clubhouse has been a hotbed of unsavory activity.

I mean, if Segui is smart enough to get out in front of this thing, what's stopping Peter Angelos?

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

"The Peter Schmuck Show" airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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