MLB’s annual drug testing report puts focus on rising Adderall use

Mark Townsend
November 30, 2013

Major League Baseball, in conjunction with the MLBPA, released its annual report from the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program’s Independent Program Administrator on Friday. As always, the report is specific to players who were tested while on a 40-man roster. Of course, 40-man rosters are ever-changing throughout the course of a season, so the exact number of players tested is in the neighborhood of 1,200.

Here's a look at the specifics of the report, which is required to be released before Dec. 1. It comes courtesy of the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo (via Eye on Baseball):

1) The total number of drug tests that were conducted for the presence of Performance Enhancing Substances and/or Stimulants during the time listed above was 5,391 tests. The number of urine samples that were collected and analyzed for the presence of Performance Enhancing Substances and/or Stimulants was 4,022. The number of blood samples that were collected and analyzed for the presence of human growth hormone was 1,369.

2) Eight tests were reported by the testing laboratory for having an adverse analytical finding that resulted in discipline. All were for Stimulants. The substances reported were as follows: Adderall: 7; Methylhexaneamine: 1

3) 13 non-analytical positives resulted in discipline.

4) 122 Therapeutic Use Exemptions were granted. The diagnoses were as follows: Attention Deficit Disorder: 119; Hypogonadism: 3

The 21 total positives are up from 18 in 2011-12. Of course, the 13 positives noted as non-analytical positives were all connected to Biogenesis. Last season, there were seven positives for performance-enhancing substances and 11 positives for banned stimulants that resulted in discipline, so the number of actual positive tests is well down.

The other takeaway that is being noted and analyzed is the high number of players who use Adderall, which is a drug used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). The most notable of even players suspended for Adderall use was Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz. They were an additional 119 players granted therapeutic use exemptions for Adderall. As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times notes, the report indicates that roughly 1 in 10 players have been diagnosed with ADD, which doubles the estimated 4.7% of the adult population that have been diagnosed.

The fresh numbers, combined with the fact that Adderall exemptions jumped from 28 in 2006 to 103 when MLB banned amphetamines in 2007, have led to concerns that players are finding ways around the system with a simple note from their doctor. In fact, MLB was concerned enough last winter to readjust the rules allowing them to investigate the player’s need for the Adderall prescription. They have since stated they’re satisfied the figure is not out of line, with one possible explanation being the numbers are easily skewed by people who haven’t been tested, diagnosed or perhaps can’t afford treatment.

It’s still a trend worth keeping an eye on. If the numbers continue to rise, the questions should continue to be asked.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!