Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Year-round Adderall ban makes no sense

Ten milligram tablets of the hyperactivity drug, Adderall, m

Ten milligram tablets of the hyperactivity drug, Adderall, made by Shire Plc, is shown in a Cambridge, Massachusetts pharmacy Thursday, January 19, 2006. Shire Plc, the U.K.'s third-largest drugmaker, said it settled a patent-infringement lawsuit against Impax Laboratories Inc. over its best-selling drug, Adderall XR, used to treat hyperactivity. Photographer: JB Reed/Bloomberg News

Bloomberg News

As more and more NFL players test positive for Adderall (or claim that they have in order to avoid the steroids stigma . . . and thanks for the shout, Bill Simmons), we’re all learning more about the ADD medication that apparently has become very popular among NFL players.

It’s a stimulant that, according to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, “can be used as a game-day performance enhancer.”

While players can obtain prescriptions for it, they also must have a therapeutic use exemption in order to avoid discipline. That was the gist of the warning given to players by the NFLPA in September, given the rash of positive Adderall tests.

Still, the fact that the league says it “can be used as a game-day performance enhancer” raises an obvious question. If it can be used as a game-day performance enhancer, why is it banned on the other 349 days of the year?

“It’s a prescription drug, right?” Aiello said in response to that question. “Abuse of prescription drugs is also a concern.”

That’s a fair point. But does that mean every prescription drug is banned by the NFL on a year-round basis? Though an argument could be made that Adderall should be prohibited on any NFL work day (practice, meetings, etc.), it makes no sense to ban it every day of the year, especially in the offseason.

The easy answer is that the NFLPA agreed to make it a banned substance, and the union did in 2006. And as long as the NFL and NFLPA agree that it’s banned all year long, it is.

Unless, again, the player has a prescription and an exemption from the NFL.

None of this changes the fact that a player who is busted for steroids can simply claim that he was taking Adderall. For that reason, the NFL and the union should craft separate categories of banned substances, disclosing when a suspension is finalized whether the player took, for example, a stimulant or a steroid.