Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A thoughtful perspective on drugs in baseball

I've told many, but I'm making it official on the blog today. I'm moving back to the Washington, D.C area where I'll be covering high school sports in Northern Virginia. Last Thursday was my last at The New York Sun. It wasn't too shabby of a run there, though. In all, I had 39 bylined stories, which included memorable stories about ridiculousness at Circuit City, a fast food ban, a Bronx-born judo Olympian, me trying to be a ballboy, and me mysteriously calling something an emporium.

So now with the Sun in the rear view mirror, I've begun to return my focus to sports, and specifically topics of interest for high school sports. I had been thinking about a story involving the usage of amphetamines in high school sports, especially with Major Baseball banning their usage as part of its crackdown on steroids and drugs in the game. Well lo and behold, as I was reading the Sun today (which I think I'm going to continue to do even though I don't work there anymore), there was a story about steroids.

The amount of scrutiny given to steroids over the years got to the point that people just didn't want to hear about it anymore. Recently, the attention on the subject has waned. But in today's Sun, Tim Marchman makes a couple observations that make perfect sense and could bring the topic of illegal drug use in baseball back to the surface:

By now, three things are certain. One is that players have either stopped using or, more likely, are good at not getting caught, as baseball has suspended only two major leaguers for stimulant use in the last three years.

The second is that since the ban, an apparent plague of attention deficit disorders has washed over the sport, requiring really stunning numbers of players to obtain therapeutic use exemptions for speed-like drugs such as Ritalin. (One hundred and seven players had such exemptions in 2007, up from 30 in 2006.)

And the third is that in a society where you can buy an energy drink called Cocaine, no man really needs to sit around popping Benzedrine.

To me, all of that makes perfect sense. Obtaining ADD medicine is the next evolution of amphetamines. I think it provides the first example of a loophole in the new drug regulations in sports. These guys are all getting prescription drugs to replace the over the counter stuff. Now, I'm guessing some of the prescriptions are legitimate, but the steep increase seems to indicate some are taking advantage. Remember, there isn't a prescription money can't buy, and these baseball players certainly have plenty of green.

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