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Lots of baseball players take ADD drugs

Dec 2, 2010, 12:30 PM EDT


Baseball’s annual drug report came out yesterday and the results are not terribly surprising: 3,714 drug tests and 17 positives, only two of which were for PEDs used by Edinson Volquez and Ronny Paulino. The other positives were stimulants and recreational drugs.

These test results will lead to predictable statements from the predictable parties: Major League Baseball will crow about how low the drug-use rate is and will say it’s because of its tough testing regime.  The anti-drug people like the World Anti-Doping Agency* will say it’s evidence that baseball is whitewashing a no-doubt rampant drug problem. It’s just what they do.

I’m more interested in another number: 105. That’s how many players got Theraputic Use Exemptions in order to be able to take the drug Adderall and similar ADD-treatment products.  They’re stimulants, by the way, and they’re otherwise banned because they work like greenies.  105 players represents around 10 percent of those players who are tested.  ADD occurs in something like three percent of the population. I don’t know enough about ADD to say anything particularly intelligent here, but I am curious to know what sort of medical documentation is needed before baseball grants a Theraputic Use Exemption.  A doctor’s note? An exam? Must there be some evidence of ADD diagnosis in the player as a child? Because that’s when most ADD cases present themselves.

Or is this just the big loophole?

*I love how they have the word “Agency” in their title. You usually see that in government offices because the term “agency,” quite literally, speaks to a relationship in which one acts pursuant to the instructions of a greater power. The President is too busy to forecast the weather, so he appoints agents to do so: the National Weather Service. WADA, however, is not a government organization. It does not act under the orders of someone else.  It’s a self-appointed group that promotes its services and — more importantly — its seal-of-approval to sports leagues and governing bodies. The use of the word “agency” is designed to make it sound more official and more powerful than it truly is. Which tells you an awful lot about WADA.

  1. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Dec 2, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    BIG LOOPHOLE – In college the % prescribed Adderall by our campus health center was WAY above 3% and even likely above 10%. They handed that stuff out like candy. It is almost as easy to get an ADD drug prescription in colleges as it is a marijuana card in CA. I’m sure it’s not to hard for MLB players to pull the same strings to get the prescription.

    Now I’m wondering if Cliff Lee is an Adderall user. A walk rate that low requires intense, prolonged focus!!

  2. cjtyers - Dec 2, 2010 at 12:56 PM

    Craig, you should look up the symptoms of ADD in a medical dictionary.

    I’m not saying it’s a phony disease, I know people whom it legitimately affects and the medication certainly serves it purpose for those who legitmately need it. But you are correct that that drug could serve another, very beneficial purpose to those who take the drug without having the disease.

    In one of my classes in college we were given a medical dictionary’s entry of ADD and ADHD to review, and honestly I was shocked, as according to the definitions and symptoms, I too have ADD and/or ADHD. In fact, accordingly to that medical dictionary and the symptoms it defined, I’d say about 70% of society would qualify as being ADHD.

    Limited attention span? Check.
    Fidget in your chair freqently when sitting? Check.
    Interrupt a serious and engaging conversation with a random outburst such as “Oh look, a butterfly!” Check.

    See? Medically speaking, I’m ADD, just like that. And it’s a condition that is incredibly simple to fake at a doctor’s office when you look at the symptoms.

    Again, I know this is a serious condition and I know several people who are severly impacted by it. I wish I could remember the name of that medical dictionary that we used in the experiment. In any event, I see how this could become a huge problem, but I don’t see any way how this can be stopped. The condition usually pops up during adolensence, but realistically, it wasn’t very well known or documented or medicated until most of these guys were out of adolesence, so they could jsut play the “I’ve definately had this my whole life but no one realized it was ADD until just last the year or two or three.” Because of the increase in awareness over the last few years, they can use that line and get away with it, and no one has any proof to the contrary.

    • pwf207 - Dec 2, 2010 at 1:10 PM

      It was probably the DSM IV, the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders.

      • pwf207 - Dec 2, 2010 at 1:12 PM

        Not to be confused with the Jerry Manuel manual of mental disorders

    • turnips - Dec 2, 2010 at 1:35 PM

      one very important thing that should be added, and this goes for all disorders, you might fit some or all of the descriptors, but unless these things severely impair your ability to function in life, it is not considered a disorder.

      So, I’m very inattentive a lot of the time and have trouble concentrating and sitting still. However, I was able to graduate high school and college with a very high GPA and now I hold down a job (as a counselor, no less). Therefore, it does not severely impact my life functioning, and I do not have the disorder.

      But yes… often it is misdiagnosed and people, and sadly, children, are medicated without a proper evaluation being done.

  3. pwf207 - Dec 2, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    sorry Mets fans, couldn’t resist, plus he’s gone now, so you guys should get in on this. And I am not trying to make light of mental disorders, just the Mets.

    • cjtyers - Dec 2, 2010 at 1:17 PM

      Regardless of the context or number of people you might offend, you will always have my permission to make fun of the mets anytime you wish.

      • adenzeno - Dec 2, 2010 at 2:01 PM

        The Mets have been a self parody for years. Hopefully this will change.

      • CJ - Dec 2, 2010 at 2:19 PM

        Hopefully it doesn’t. Some things are better left unchanged. This would be one of them

  4. monkeyball - Dec 2, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    Speaking of WADA, I always found this to be an amusing coinkydink …

  5. Jonny 5 - Dec 2, 2010 at 1:38 PM

    It’s obvious. I mean Duhhh. People with ADD are just better ball players.

  6. frankvzappa - Dec 2, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    it takes focus to hit a 100mph fastball…nothing to see here people, move along

  7. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Dec 2, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    I can’t stop grinding my teeth.

  8. Detroit Michael - Dec 2, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    3% doesn’t seem like the appropriate benchmark, not that it’s easy to derive the right one. What % of U.S. males ages 22-40 who are physically active are prescribed Adderall or similar drugs? I’d guess that that is higher than the 3% figure.

  9. nhuskerjj - Dec 2, 2010 at 4:31 PM

    Granted most of what Ive seen is recreational but you woudnt believe the stories out there that we dont get to read. I personally dont care about the drug use in baseball. I dont even care about steriod use. Stupid me I know,, but I have seen and heard many many first hand strories that have baseball players and drugs as the same topic and paragraph. From what Ive seen and heard I would bet a lot of money that baseball is the sport with the most prevalent drug use.

  10. Old Gator - Dec 2, 2010 at 4:34 PM

    I notice that over the past couple of decades, while the percentage of the population casually diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, not to mention autism, has risen astronomically, the percentage of the population formally classified as assholes has plummeted. Some of this, of course, may be attributable to a shift in technical nomenclature, like the one which robbed us of “Brontosaurus.” The folks at the Linnaeus Society, the rarely mentioned (and then only in nervous whispers) little clique of Illuminati, have been really busy since the introduction of cladistics renaming everything they can get their hooks into. The American watersnake genus Natrix gets renamed Nerodia, for example. Why? What goddamned difference did it make? These people can’t sit still, can’t help coming up with irrelevant new names for perfectly stable genera, don’t care how many of us they traumatized by treating the skull of Brontosaurus the way that cryogenic lab treated Ted Williams’ head, and certainly didn’t care that by accepting more and more capacious definitions for ADD and ADHD, they were forcing our beloved assholes out of existence. I think ADD must be disproportionately represented on the board of the Linnaeus Society. That, or they must just be a bunch of assholes.

    • Jonny 5 - Dec 2, 2010 at 6:34 PM

      Gator, once again you have solved what confuses most people. And you’ve outdone yourself again. You deserve a beer now. No, not one of those sally girl light beers, a real honest to goodness beer. And it’s a god damned shame what those a-holes did to Ted’s head. But the dumb a-hole should have known better.

      • Old Gator - Dec 2, 2010 at 6:51 PM

        Well then, with your dispensation sir like the tradewinds at my back, I am departing the horse latitudes of southwestern Macondo and heading up the wide Palmetto to the Luna Star Cafe right now to allow the lissome and beauteous Brie to serve me a bottle of Framboise lambic over a big scoop of Cherry Garcia frozen lowfat yogurt. One celebrates or one does not. I does.

  11. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 2, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    Well, we have 105 “legal” cheaters using PEDs. Adderall is a drug that enchances performance. It is better at it than steriods or HGH. But it is okay because it is just a new hopped up version of what Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and Billy Martin used to keep the Yankees juiced in the ’50s.

    • woodenulykteneau - Dec 3, 2010 at 8:13 AM

      Yes, they are “cheating” in exactly the same way that diabetics are when they take insulin. Like ALL medications, they work differently with “normal” people than they do with the patients they are intended for.

      A person with ADHD is *already* overstimulated; that’s why they have difficulty concentrating. They also have more energy than most people do; that’s very likely the reason why there are more of them in baseball than the general population would suggest, just as there are, for example, more folks with Asperger’s working in scientific and technical fields.

      And, for the record, this is not a rubber-stamp move, as reported LAST SUMMER.

      • turnips - Dec 3, 2010 at 8:17 AM

        agreed. I was trying to think of how to word it, but you said it perfectly. While I’m sure there are those who try to take advantage and get these drugs without needing them, quite frankly, i think the percentage of players on them would be a lot higher if that were the case.

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 3, 2010 at 7:20 PM

        I am sure that of the 105 players, some actually have ADD about 30 to 40. So my bad, there are 65 to 75 cheaters. turnips said,

        “While I’m sure there are those who try to take advantage and get these drugs without needing them, quite frankly, i think the percentage of players on them would be a lot higher if that were the case.”

        There were 103 players that tested positive for steriods (you know the ones where the names were never to be released). That squares with the 105, the percentage of “cheaters”
        is about the same.

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