Adderall: A PED?

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adderall.jpgThe term PED, short for performance enhancing drug, has become as popular a term in sports as home run or touchdown. With the recent advances in testing for performance enhancing drugs the number of positive tests continues to rise, but more recently a drug that many athletes seem to be testing positive for ADHD medicine, Adderall. 

Adderall is mostly used to improve focus, and thus is widely popular among college students to help with cramming for exams. While adderall is helpful when trying to learn and retain a large amount of information, it also can help make fast, split decisions, which is why it has become popular with athletes. 

An article written by A.J. Perez for Fox Sports sheds some light on the new phenomenon sweeping the sports world. In the article, the founder of the Bay Area Lab Co-Operative (BALCO), Victor Conte, talks about the effects of using adderall for athletes. Conte has a unique perspective on the situation as he was largely responsible for supplying steroids to athletes during the 90s and 2000s and the bust of his lab is what blew the cover off the steroid scandal that rocked Major League Baseball. In the article, he states that taking adderall or similar amphetamines gives athletes an advantage in their ability to read the situation and make the right decision quickly. He also mentions that before his lab was shut down, he recommended drugs like adderall to players for that very reason. But even now that the BALCO laboratory has been shut down, the use of adderall among athletes seems to be rising dramatically. Is this because of increased use of the drug? Or does it have something to do with better testing that is able to detect adderall?

Since the start of training camp this year in August, 7 NFL players have tested positive for amphetamines, and their excuse has been the use of adderall. Just last week, Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz tested positive for amphetamines and admitted that was for using adderall. Is is possible that all of these athletes are telling the truth and are really using adderall? Sure. But another article written by Doug Kyed offers a different possibility. When the NFL or MLB find out that a player has failed a drug test, they will release a statement that says something like "this player has tested positive for the use of amphetamines" or something along those lines. What they don't do is specifically name the drug that the athlete tested positive for. In the article, it shows that Kyed contacted a former NFL player named Ryan Riddle via twitter, who stated that he thinks that many players are just using adderall as a public relations cover up for what they really tested positive for.

This is an interesting possibility. As I previously mentioned, we as fans have no way of knowing for sure what drug they really tested positive for, all we have is what we are told. One of the players that tested positive earlier this year was New York Giants running back Andre Brown, and he was suspended for 4 games because of this. However, he was able to appeal the decision and show that he had been prescribed the adderall and his suspension was revoked. Now, if the other players that claimed all they did was take prescribed adderall, why weren't their suspensions revoked? Is it possible that it is because they really used adderall as a cover for the use of steroids because a known positive test for steroids would be extremely damaging to their reputation? 

Adderall has become a problem for professional sports. Is it being abused to this extent, or is t being used as a cover for the use of other PEDs? Either way, this is a problem that isn't going away anytime soon.

1 Comment

It seems that this is a growing problem in sports that isn't going to go away anytime soon, in fact, when I looked online for further articles I found two that were published within this past week. The first article published 6 days ago in USA today asked if pro sports league have an adderall problem and I think it is evident that the answer is yes. The article begins by talking about the beginning of this sports epidemic in 2009 with Garrett Harley of the New Orleans Saints who went public about taking the drug. Three years later and this drug is banned without prescription is almost all major leagues, including hockey. Even though prescriptions are allowed, the percentage of those in sports taking adderall is higher than the national average: "So roughly 9% of major league players are granted exemptions for drugs treating them for ADHD. By comparison, a study commissioned by the National Institute of Mental Health in 2006 found that 4.4% of adults ages 14 to 44 in the U.S. experienced symptoms of ADHD.

"To have doubled the population prevalence of a disorder is staggering," says University of Wisconsin psychiatrist Eric Heiligenstein. "Obviously, that's weird.""

Clearly, it is both an issue in sports but it also seems that players are getting prescriptions more than needed.

In the second article in the NY times calls adderall the drug that is the center of suspensions in major league sports. It claims that adderall is absolutely a PED (performance enhancing drug) and that it is called a "Superman drug," among college students. This is all known and seems to be agreed upon, but how do we fix it? I think the amount of prescriptions written need to significantly decrease among athletes and the general public because it is such an easily accessible and seemingly popular drug of choice.

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