Analysis

Chooch and Amphetamines: Why It Isn’t “Just Adderall”

Chooch isn't as clean as we previously thought. (MLB)

Yesterday, Carlos Ruiz was suspended for 25 games by the MLB for a positive test for amphetamines. According to Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, MLB does not suspend or publicize a player’s first positive test for the substance, which means this is Chooch’s second positive test.

From that page:

B. Stimulant Violations

A Player who tests positive for a Stimulant, or otherwise violates the Program through the use or possession of a Stimulant, will be subject to the discipline set forth below.

1. First violation: Follow-up testing pursuant to Section 3.D.2 above;
2. Second violation: 25-game suspension;
3. Third violation: 80-game suspension; and
4. Fourth and subsequent violation: Suspension for just cause by the Commissioner, up to permanent suspension from Major League and Minor League Baseball, which penalty shall be subject to challenge before the Arbitration Panel.

Now, we all know that Shane Victorino battles ADHD, and he, along with many others, take stimulants thanks to the “Theraputic Use” clause in the policy.

I. Therapeutic Use Exemption

1. A Player authorized to ingest a Prohibited Substance through a valid, medically appropriate prescription provided by a duly licensed physician shall receive a Therapeutic Use Exemption (“TUE”). To be “medically appropriate,” the Player must have a documented medical need under the standards accepted in the United States or Canada for the prescription in the prescribed dosage. A specimen which is found to contain a Prohibited Substance will not be deemed a positive test result if such specimen was provided by a Player with an effective TUE for that substance. A Player with a TUE for a Prohibited Substance does not violate the Program by possessing or using that substance.

With the TUE, a player can, by the looks of it, take Adderall or another stimulant without consequence–so long as they have a physician to sign for them.

But this post isn’t about the legalities of the testing policy, or the fact that some players take the same thing Ruiz took without consequence. This post is about why illegally taking Adderall is not such a petty thing, as many fans seem to think.

Here’s a little background on me. I was always a very smart child, but I was evaluated by a psychologist when I was very young and was diagnosed with ADHD. I did not go on medication, however, until junior year of high school. Up until that time, I had struggled with school, even though I was considered smarter than 99% of kids my age. When I began the medication (not Adderall, however), my struggles vanished. I was one of the many people in America that legitimately needed the drug.

Along with my better performance in school, I also was able to work out more because I had more energy. Moreover, I was able to do things at 100% effort on only a few hours of sleep because the medicine kept me awake and alert. And these are effects on someone who needs the medication.

In Ruiz’s case, it’s obvious he most likely didn’t need it. So imagine how much more the effect of the drug would be on him. He was likely able to do the things I stated above–but to a higher degree. There is a reason that MLB and other sports ban a drug like Adderall. It gives you a boost that you wouldn’t normally have.

If you still think that it is “just Adderall”, remember that it is a Class II drug, which is defined as follows: “SCHEDULE 2 DRUGS (CLASS 2) DRUGS have a high potential for abuse and dependence, an accepted medical use, and the potential for severe addiction.” It is federally controlled and is in the same drug category as Cocaine.

Adderall isn’t quite a steroid, but Chooch’s suspension was deserved. He took an illegal drug that undoubtedly helped his performance–or at the very least, his energy–on and off the field. A baseball season is 162 games long, plus the time that players put into practice and Spring Training. Guys wear down and need rest towards the end of the long season, but with Adderall, those effects are lessened.

So think twice before you try to defend Chooch’s actions. We all love the guy, but this is definitely a black mark on him.

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