Ok, so I’m not actually a pharmacist. I am a senior at Oklahoma State University majoring in physiology with emphasis in endocrinology, so hormones are somewhat of a specialty for me. I’m here to talk to you guys about Brian Cushing and the effects of hCG.
Cushing was caught using a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG. Many athletes who use steroids incorporate hCG to prevent some nasty side effects like testicular atrophy (shrinkage) during the steroid cycle and muscle atrophy (loss of strength) after a steroid cycle. When used in this capacity it is taken in high doses. From the reports I’ve seen Cushing was found with only low levels of hCG so I don’t believe he used this hormone for this purpose. Also since he was tested frequently after this incident and was found to be “clean” during that time and due to the fact his production continued to increase after this incident (people who were on steroids and come off them tend to lose their extra muscle mass very quickly) leads me to believe he was never on anabolic steroids to begin with.
Another use for hCG is many athletes believe that hCG can help reduce subcutaneous fat. It has been proven time and again that this doesn’t work but many athletes and trainers still believe that it helps. When used in this capacity the hormone is taken in low doses and usually taken orally instead of an injection. Once again, due to the low level of this found in his urine I believe this is what he was taking it for because linebackers can’t usually be fat and still do their job well. His explination of "overtraining" is possible because hCG is a type of tropic hormone release by the hypothalamus to release testosterone, like luteinizing hormone or gonadotropin releasing hormone, but this is an unlikely explination.
Since hCG is normally produced by pregnant women, it can have side effects on men that increase feminine appearances like breast tissue growth when taken in high doses. Because of this, hCG is usually used with an anti-estrogen agent which wasn’t found in Cushing’s urine analysis either.
I don’t believe this boosted his performance in any way. The evidence seems to point out that the performance seen on the field last year was all Brian Cushing, thus making him deserving of the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. He’s just a really good player who will continue to get better assuming he doesn’t get hurt. I'm not saying he didn't cheat because he did and should be punished as such. What he took was on the banned substance list. However, I don't think he is on or even remotely close to the level of someone like Shawne Merriman who took anabolic steroids.