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

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.



  1. Nina Hartley

    November 28, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Cooch! I’m sooooo disappointed.

  2. George

    November 28, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    “the Player must have a documented medical need under the standards accepted in the United States or Canada.”

    Considering the fact that so many players, including Ruiz, don’t dwell in Canada or the US, I would wonder if some of these “stimulants” could be prescibed in those foreign countries for legitimate problems and that no matter what the reasons, MLB wouldn’t recognize the need and not issue a TUE simply because the doctor is Dominican.

    I’m not saying this was the case with Ruiz, but I am saying that the MLB policies are basically a bunch of poorly thought out crap.

  3. Ken Bland

    November 28, 2012 at 7:40 pm


    Terrific read. Ties up and validtaes some bits and pieces reading I did today prioviding elmentary education on the subject. Nice personal touch, too, with yur own experience, and understandug the pulse of the reaction by concluding that we all still love Chooch, but find a lot of faut with his course of action (I reserve the right to withdraw the last statement if a form iof addiction is somehow involved in this).

  4. rc

    November 28, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Poor chooch…can’t get him some crank and get around mlb drug testing policies.

  5. EricL

    November 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm


    “In Ruiz’s case, it’s obvious he most likely didn’t need it.”

    How in the world can you possibly know that?

    Also, I’m real happy for you and all, with your soi disant smarts, but you know what they say: The plural of anecdote isn’t data. Finally, drug scheduling in the United States is substantially politically determined, rather than on the scientifically measured physiological effects, so that really means little when it comes to judging the severity of the issue. Marijuana, for example, is a Schedule I substance, which is supposed to be reserved for drugs with no known medicinal use and a high probability for abuse. GHB is a schedule I drug as well, except it’s also a schedule III drug because it has medicinal uses. [And I might add that alcohol and nicotine would likely be schedule I or II substances if they were so rated.] In any event, like I said, using US CSA Drug Scheduling tables isn’t the best way to support the argument that this stimulant is highly problematic.

  6. Jon

    November 28, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Because if he did need it, he would have gotten the exemption after the first positive test.

    • EricL

      November 28, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      Except it’s a drug you can only obtain via prescription, so he had at least one physician already decide he needs it. But, hey, I’m sure internet commenters know more about Carlos Ruiz’s medical history than his actual prescribing physician.

  7. Bruce

    November 28, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    I don’t care to read excuses by some fans here. Ruiz admitted his mistake and appropriately apologized for it. He should have known better after testing positive the first time.

    His apology; “I am sincerely regretful for my mistake in taking a prohibited stimulant,” Ruiz said in a statement. “I apologize to my teammates, the Phillies organization and the Philadelphia fans. I will serve the imposed 25-game suspension to begin the season and I look forward to returning to the field and working toward bringing a championship back to Philadelphia in 2013.”

    We can only hope that he can still play to last year’s level of success without the use of a “stimulant”.

    • EricL

      November 29, 2012 at 1:43 am

      Nobody should have expected Ruiz to repeat his 2012 performance, irrespective of what he was or was not ingesting. It was a career year, way above all his career averages, which is okay, players have career years, but you have to be able to recognize the outliers and understand that a mid-30s guy isn’t likely to repeat a huge outlying year when the rest of his career points to him being not quite that good.

      In other words, we should have be expecting regression even prior to this revelation.

  8. Dave W

    November 29, 2012 at 12:18 am

    How is it obvious that Ruiz didn’t need it? I, like many others I am friends with, have used Adderall. It certainly DOES elevate focus and attention for EVERYONE WHO TAKES IT. Who are you to determine that he didn’t need it? Or that you DID need it? Sounds like you used it just like Carlos did. Open your self-righteous, myopic mind.

  9. Bob in Bucks

    November 29, 2012 at 12:29 am

    Geez folks. Give it up. If Ruiz could document that he needed this drug he would have appealed and won. Any issues with foreign or domestic doctors would have been resolved after the first finding. Yes you only get the suspension on the second positive test. By then everything would have been understood. Given that he did not qualify under that ruling it seems obvious that he had not medical need for the drug.

  10. Jon

    November 29, 2012 at 12:55 am

    Who says he obtained it legally? If a physician prescribed it for him, and he tested positive, Ruiz would have immediately gotten the exemption from his physician.

    • EricL

      November 29, 2012 at 1:57 am

      Maybe, maybe not.

      I really don’t think it’s appropriate to speculate as to the conditions of what led to the positive test, because that’s how you spread wildly inaccurate information. Maybe Ruiz changed doctors and/or medications; maybe he has a non-MLB certified Panamanian doctor wasn’t able to effectively convince the Expert Panel that the prescription was necessary. Maybe the prescribing doctor never returned the relevant documentation to the Program Administrator. There are dozens of things that might have complicated the issue beyond, the assumption that he was intentionally cheating. He may well have been, but we just don’t know that, and jumping to that conclusion is, in my opinion, irresponsible.

      The TUE has to be applied for, it is not just granted upon revelation that a player was given a legitimate prescription for the substance. There are a number of hoops to jump through if a player is seeing a non-MLB certified or US licensed physician, which may well be the case here. (See sub-section 3(b) of the rule book quoted in the article).

  11. Jon

    November 29, 2012 at 12:59 am

    Dave, you must not have read the part where I explained that I was evaluated by a psychologist prior to being prescribed the medication. Don’t know where I’m being “self righteous and myopic”.

  12. Jon

    November 29, 2012 at 1:08 am

    Here’s why he probably didn’t need it

    First positive test, all he had to do was show MLB that he has a prescription for it, and then his physician signs the Theraputic Use Exemption. And if that happens, there is no second positive test.

    • EricL

      November 29, 2012 at 1:57 am

      No, as I said in my above comment, it’s much more complicated than that.

  13. Bruce

    November 29, 2012 at 1:34 am

    I’m wondering if Ruiz could still apply for the “Therapeutic Use Exemption” after serving his 25 game suspension? It’s possble Ruiz may have been unaware of the rule for TUE? Of course, he would need all the necessary documents verifying his condition (ADHD) including a “valid prescription” from his physician. He could also enlist the aid of the Phillies team physician for assistance. Furthermore, he could ask for advice and have discussion with ex-teammate, Shane Victorino on his successful application for TUE.

    • EricL

      November 29, 2012 at 2:00 am

      Yes. If he has a legitimate condition which is treated by stimulants, and he gets either an MLB-Certified physician to prescribe it he can be granted a TUE from the point he applied for it onward. If he’s not using an MLB Certified physician then he can still get one, but he has to have the paperwork and explanations forwarded by his personal physician to the Expert Panel that MLB has set up which makes the determination in that case.

  14. Jon

    November 29, 2012 at 2:28 am

    You make valid points, but Ruiz did not mention anything like that in his official statement. And I would find it hard to believe that Ruiz’s agent couldn’t handle the paperwork, etc needed to get the exemption. It’s an assumption by me, yes, but I don’t think it’s irresponsible.

  15. Lefty

    November 29, 2012 at 6:37 am

    “I am sincerely regretful for my mistake in taking a prohibited stimulant,”

    I agree it is “possible” he needs the medicine, but his statement infers that whether he needs it or not, he still knows he didn’t properly follow MLB requirements after the first test. He admits his “mistake”.

    Did MLB not lay out a plan of instructions of what he needed to do in order to continue taking the medication after the first violation? Isn’t the idea of no suspension on the first violation a reasonable chance for the player to prove he does have need for the medicine? Did he not understand? Did the Phillies not help him understand? Did he not see that both Frandsen and Collier sought TUE’s for their condition? Well, I guess all of that is possible, but it’s not likely. I really don’t think Jon’s assertion is irresponsible at all.

    He was warned and he kept taking the stuff. It doesn’t matter how complicated the panel or paperwork process is, or that his doctor might be Panamanian, or any of the other arguments you make, he KEPT on taking it. He knew he wasn’t supposed to take it, and he still did.

    He cheated and admitted his mistake, and he even suggested that he would not appeal the suspension. “I will serve the imposed 25-game suspension to begin the season and I look forward to returning to the field and working toward bringing a championship back to Philadelphia in 2013.” While hard to accept, all information we presently have points to him admitting to cheating.

  16. Bob in Bucks

    November 29, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Eric – I think it is reasonable to not jump to conclusions but I do think it is reasonable to consider the following facts –

    1. Ruiz tested positive for the substance twice.
    2. He was notified of the first test results.
    3. He has representation to protect him.
    4. MLB did not grant him a TUE.
    5. Ruiz issued a statement which did not offer any medical reason for taking the substance. He could easily have issued a statement of regret and mentioned that he and his physician had requested a TUE but were turned down.
    6. He could have appealed the suspension.

    Given those facts I do not think it is unreasonable or irresponsible to assume that he knowingly violated MLB substance abuse policy. If there is a different story it is not up to you or others to create possible scenarios. It is up to Ruiz to offer another explanation. He has not, why do you feel that you must?

    • George

      November 29, 2012 at 11:55 am

      I suppose you’ve never run into a situation when it’s a lot easier to admit to something that’s not quite true than to jump through a few dozen hoops or spend weeks of valuable time trying to prove innocence. Many times (just as an example) a husband will lose an argument with his wife because he knows he has to keep living under the same roof. How many times has a congressman voted on a compromise he doesn’t like, just to pass a law that basically is okay?

      My biggest issues with the drug policy are that it’s stupidly enforced, stupidly explained, and provokes way too much chatter among people who have no qualifications to interpret it. And one can not flat out say that just because one person has a certain effect from a drug, that the effect will be the same in everbody. Medicines affect people differently, and prescriptions always warn of side effects that you “might” have.

    • EricL

      November 29, 2012 at 12:56 pm

      Except Ruiz doesn’t owe anybody (other than perhaps his bosses) an explanation, because we’re talking about his medical records and history, which are personal, private information.

      It’s very easy to put out an apologetic statement because that’s what is best for your professional career and at the same time believe you did nothing wrong.

      My point in all this isn’t to defend his possible actions. I’m not saying that he DIDN’T knowingly cheat. It’s that we CANNOT KNOW whether he did or did not knowingly cheat, and speculating as to which (or, worse, criticizing him for it) is not productive. We’re not working with all the facts here, so to definitively say he did or didn’t do something is wrong.

  17. Ken Bland

    November 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    “Many times (just as an example) a husband will lose an argument with his wife because he knows he has to keep living under the same roof.”

    WOW! That oughta go over well with the female portion of the readership. And here, those former residents of Venus were no doubt thinking they won those verbal assaults fair and square. One thing for sure. If Amber got through last week’s discussion on male strategies to marraige proposals still engaged, she gonna think twice now about walking down the aisle with the fiancee.

    Al Campanis couldn’t have worded that a whole lot better!

    • EricL

      November 29, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      Years ago I tried to use a variation of this technique when I would get in trouble by my mother. She would yell at me for something I had done wrong, and regardless of whether or not I felt I had done anything wrong, I would just quietly say, “You’re right. I’m sorry I disappointed you.”

      Most times it just made her more angry because I was preemptively cutting off her line of attack, which was probably frustrating 🙂

    • George

      November 29, 2012 at 6:12 pm

      I did not deliberately single out the husband/wife situation, because many times it works the opposite way, with the woman losing. Sometimes one must keep comments fairly short, and that’s why I failed to include all instances of deliberately losing an argument. Being a male, myself, it’s the husband side I’m most familiar with, and unfortunately, that’s what came out. I’m sorry if I offended anyone. I also don’t believe my earlier comment should have any effect whatsoever on Amber. Proposals are entirely different than arguments.

      And by the way, I think your comment about “those former residents of Venus” is far more insulting to the female readership than anything I’ve said.

      • Ken Bland

        November 29, 2012 at 7:19 pm

        If there is offense taken, it’s because of a lack of familiarity with the best seller from yers ago entitled “Men are From Mars, Women From Venus.” I thought you’d recognize the reference being as we’re around the same age. Book about relationships.

  18. Jon

    November 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Eric, that’s your opinion and I respect it.

  19. Rob G.

    November 30, 2012 at 9:53 am

    I understand everything you said Jonathan, but it still doesn’t really mean anything. The fact is that often these athletes are viewed as celebrities and can easily get a doctor to prescribe them. I’m sure other players in MLB don’t need the drug either, but they have a doctors note so its all in good health, right? RIIIIIIGHT.

  20. delearyous

    November 30, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    You guys are dilusional. If he had a medial need for it, he would have had the exception. The league isn’t stingy with giving them out. More than 100 major leaguers have the TUE exception. The fact that some people want to argue that we CANNOT KNOW is a complete joke for the following reasons.

    1. If it was a medical need, why is it that his numbers jumped jsut last season? This medical need gernally does not “just happen.” And if it does, it does not tend to increase performance dramitically. Rather, it would level out poor performance.

    2. Arguing that you need a perscription to get a particular drug when you’re a millionaire is just ignorant. The ability to legally obtain it and obtain it all together are completely different stories. If he had a perscription (from an American or Canadian doctor), he would have been able to present it upon his first failed test and been written off for the exception.

    3. Aruging that his Dominican issue perscription not being valid here is dumb too. First off, he is Panamanian. Second, the league doesn’t exist in any countries besides America and Canada. That is the reason the perscriptions need to be valid in those countries. If he had one in his native country, he clearly does have an issue and would have been able to present that perscription to an American doctor for the proper clearance

    4. He admitted it. He said he did it. Why wouldnt he fight it if he had a case? braun proved that you can “be guilty” and get off anyway, then come back and perform just as well depite the criticisms.

    people are just in denial about this. I love Ruiz as much as the next guy, but we as Philly fans are a little quick to excuse our own cheaters. JC Romero’s left arm out of the ‘pen rode us through the playoffs. He was on PEDs. No one seemed to care about Galvis AT ALL. But despite continued clean tests on Braun this season, people still wanna knock his performance this year and knock his 1 bad test. He has proven he can do it clean, yet he continues to be questioned by fans outside his own fanbase. He should have been the MVP again this year, but the politics gave it to someone else.

    understand ruiz cheated and get on with it. He’s still the same beloved all star we’ve always had, but he’s admit

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