Major League Baseball (MLB) authorized nearly 8 percent of its players to use drugs for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) last season, which allowed them to take otherwise banned stimulants.
A total of 106 exemptions for banned drugs were given to players claiming ADHD from the end of the 2007 season until the end of the 2008 season, according to a report released by the sport’s independent drug-testing administrator on Friday.
That’s up from 103 therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) for ADHD in 2007, according to figures cited by MLB officials before a congressional committee last year.
“This is incredible. This is quite spectacular. There seems to be an epidemic of ADD in Major League Baseball,” said Dr Gary Wadler, chairman of the committee that determines the banned-substances list for the World Anti-Doping Agency.
He recommended an independent panel be established — WADA recommends at least three doctors — to review TUE requests in what he termed “a sport that grew up on greenies [amphetamines].”
“I’ve been in private practice for a lot of years. I can count on one hand the number of individuals that have ADD,” he said. “To say that close to 10 percent of Major League Baseball players have attention deficit disorder is crying out of an explanation. It is to me as an internist so off the map of my own experience.”
Rob Manfred, MLB’s executive vice president of labor relations, said it would be a mistake to compare ADHD in baseball with statistics for the general population.
“We are all male. We are far younger than the general population, and we have far better access to medical care than the general population,” Manfred said.