Every year, the Major League Baseball program devoted to the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy releases a public report on its findings, as required by the MLB collective bargaining agreement. Most of the report isn’t that interesting.
However, this year, with Adderall recently popping up in sports news as an apparent substitute for traditional amphetamines for many athletes, the numbers deserve a closer look. On first inspection, the number of players given Adderall exemptions seems right in line with years past. However, as Deadspin points out, when you look at the context behind those numbers, things begin to look slightly shady.
From 2008 through 2011, the number of players granted exemptions for Adderall remained largely unchanged, ranging from 105 to 108. In 2012, however, 116 were granted, and 10 players were suspended for amphetamines, bringing the total up to 126. That’s actually not all that much of a bump, either, but here’s where context is important.
Earlier in 2012, MLB actually changed its procedure for exemptions, essentially making it more difficult to get one. Rather than a traditional doctor’s note, players must now seek the approval of a three-expert panel. So, with exemptions rising as they become more difficult to obtain, it stands to reason that more players are seeking those exemptions.
In 2006, Major League Baseball banned the use of common amphetamines (mostly known as “greenies” then), which many speculated would have a bigger impact on players than steroid testing. Amphetamines help players deal with the “grind” of the 162-game season, increasing alertness and hand-eye coordination.
Check out the MLB’s annual report in full in the document below.
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