Dr. Damon Noto, who is one of five doctors in the United Statess who performs stem cell procedures like the one Bartolo Colon got before this season was on WFAN yesterday. When asked if we’re going to see a lot more of this kind of thing he said you can bet your bippy on it:
“Absolutely. You’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg here. This is really going to explode. In the next five years the field of regenerative medicine, using your own body cells to heal itself is going to explode. I mean athletes are really going to be demanding these types of things. Instead of major surgeries they’re going to want to use their own bodies ability to heal.”
He also noted — and please pay attention to this, PED hand-wringers — that it is not at all clear that HGH, testosterone or other added drugs provide any benefit to this surgery and that the procedure is very powerful on its own.
My instant reaction: all of this is going to take us to a place many who have followed the PED debates for years have expected to eventually be: where safe, mainstream medicine provides physical enhancements akin to or even greater than that provided by the use of illicit drugs. Once the dirty film of the illegal drug trade is wiped off of this, it’s going to be a lot harder to decide what is and what isn’t fair in an athletic setting, mostly because the moralizing that stems from the fact that laws were broken will be irrelevant.
We have a choice: we can demonize this kind of thing now, when we outside of the medical world know very little about it yet, or we can actually try to figure it all out. Those people jumping on Bartolo Colon — or even simply mocking him — have made a choice already. But it’s not the only choice.