Performance Enhancing Drugs in the NFL

Last season the NFL had its largest group of players test positive for PED use ever. Allen Barbre, Brandon Browner, Winston Guy, John Moffit and Richard Sherman were all caught using banned substances. Their compatriot, Bruce Irvin, is the latest of the fan-dubbed “Seadderall” Seahawks to test positive.

While the agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA prohibits releasing details about a positive drug test, the player involved may opt to speak openly about the test and results. Those of us who have ever seen a sports report, though, know that there are plenty of “sources close to the team,” or “individuals with direct knowledge of the situation” who will spill the beans for his favorite reporter.

Pardon the phrase, but according to league and team sources, the list of banned substances is clearly posted throughout team facilities for all players to see. The League and players’ union seem to have similar regulations to the Labor Department when it comes to posting relevant information for employees – think OSHA or EEO information posted in your office.

It isn’t – or shouldn’t be – a surprise to any player that there are certain substances they cannot use. Players should also be well aware that any player can be tested up to 6 times in the offseason. Just ask Kirk Cousins, who was tested at his Grandmother’s home back in March 2013. During the regular season and the playoffs, up to 10 players per team can be drug tested on game day. Any prior offender can be tested more frequently.

No player should be either shocked to be drug tested, or horrified to learn that a substance he knowingly used was discovered during such a test. They shouldn’t be, yet they are. We’ve all seen our fair share of reactions, from the “…What had happened was…” defense, to finger-pointing at the drug-tester or facility involved, and then my personal favorite, the feigned “How in the WORLD did THAT get in my system??!?!” response.

There are many who believe that players are copping to Adderall use because it is, in the long run, better PR for them to have taken an ADHD drug than a steroid. I happen to disagree. One is a long-term physical enhancement that will work for anyone, and the other is a short-term mental and physical enhancement for those who use it outside of its intended purpose.

Adderall is allowed for some players who have produced the documentation and gone through the arduous process of getting the okay to take the medication, based upon a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD. Some may claim that, since this is the case, Adderall can’t be both an approved and a banned substance. But they’re wrong. Here’s why…

Adderall is a combination of 4 amphetamine salts that stimulate the brain. Once it hits a patient’s bloodstream, it stimulates the production of hormones associated with attention and behavior, and slows the absorption of those hormones back into the body. The result for those who have ADD or ADHD is that it slows them down, corrects their lack of focus, and corrects their hyper-alertness. No advantage there.

For those who do not have ADD or ADHD, Adderall speeds them up, increases their alertness, concentration, and motivation, and can also result in a reduction of fatigue. What’s more, drinking sugary beverages or energy drinks while taking Adderall can temporarily boost these effects for someone who is taking the drug who does not need to. With or without the beverages, that’s a clear, unfair advantage. A performance enhancement.

Players are made well aware of the do’s and the don’ts regarding substances. Their bodies are their money, so they are keenly aware of what they put into them, whether it’s food, drink, supplements, or prescription medications. So while some players would like us to believe that they are victims of bad drug testers, that they were slipped a drug unknowingly, or that they didn’t know they were taking something that contained a banned substance, thinking fans know that their explanations are sometimes not exactly on the up and up.

If I had certain players’ ears, I would tell them that whether it’s a steroid or Adderall, stop using it. I’d remind them that they made it to the NFL because they had the talent to make it, and they should rely on that and that alone.

Twitter: @dvnmsm

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