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Tyler Sash’s Adderall case highlights the problem with a year-round ban

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As we all learn more about Adderall, the ADD medication that gives people without ADD laser-sharp focus and concentration, more questions are emerging.

For starters, we’re all learning that, even though it doesn’t enhance performance by helping guys run faster or push harder, it provides an unnatural level of mental acuity.  Beyond its impact on the day of games, the added focus can help some of the 37 players per team who will get cut before the start of every season learn the playbooks, pay attention during meetings, and otherwise seem to be better students of the game than they really are.

But we’re also learning that the drug is used for reasons unrelated to football.  As explained by Jorge Castillo of the Newark Star-Ledger, Giants safety Tyler Sash claims he took it in March to combat nerves before events in his hometown celebrating Sash’s role in a Super Bowl win.

After getting a prescription from his doctor to help deal with the fact that he’d be expected to speak on Tyler Sash Day (a Saturday) and then when receiving a key to the city (a Sunday), Sash learned on Monday that his number had come up for a random drug screen.  Sash tested positive, lost the appeal because he didn’t have a therapeutic use exemption (despite having a prescription), served a four-game suspension, and lost $120,000.

Here’s the problem.  Why does the NFL care about whether a guy takes Adderall when he’s not working?  Offseason programs no longer launch until April.  There’s no edge to be obtained in February or March (or dead period in June and July) by using it.

The fact that the NFLPA has agreed to a continuous ban makes the issue moot, but the league office likely won’t be inclined to adjust the testing procedures during future negotiations.  Though the NFL’s ultimate position would be that Adderall is a prescription medication that should not be abused, the league is an employer, not a law-enforcement agency.  When there’s little or no connection between use or abuse of any prescription or illegal drugs and performance once the player is working, any effort to tell players what they can and can’t do seems to go too far.

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16 Responses to “Tyler Sash’s Adderall case highlights the problem with a year-round ban”
  1. jetsguy1117 says: Nov 28, 2012 10:35 AM

    on a different note – they should reduce the ban for adderal to 3 games. this way, when the suspension is announced, the fans and media know whether the ban was for real PEDs (4 games) or adderal

  2. dmartin17 says: Nov 28, 2012 10:42 AM

    Just submit the prescription to the NFL and you’d be fine.

  3. ttommytom says: Nov 28, 2012 10:46 AM

    I was misdiagniosed with ADD and was prescribed Adderall. Wow. What a mistake. Makes you a bit loco if you don’t have ADD.

    Put 10 people in a room and give them Adderall. It would be REAL obvious who needs it. Adderall calms down hyperactive people. The exact opposite of what it’s chemical makeup is supposed to do. It makes non hyperactive people very edgy.

    The other thing is that it is RARE for an adult to have ADD. It almost always dissipates as we turn into adulthood.

    Not saying Sash is lying and the issue is off season but it is indeed rare for an adult to need it. Bad doctoring, as was in my case…

  4. fuglyflorio says: Nov 28, 2012 10:48 AM

    For the hundreth time … Adderall is speed, it’s used to mask steroids … to confound the tests. It’s prima facie evidence of steroid abuse. It’s not Adderall that’s the issue.

  5. daysend564 says: Nov 28, 2012 10:53 AM

    So, what you are saying is that even though he knew it was a banned substance and he didn’t have that false “condition” that is ADHD that he took a drug anyhow?

    Pretty black/white here. 4 games, see you when it is over.

  6. roadtrip3500 says: Nov 28, 2012 10:57 AM

    The problem with “working” vs “not working” is the contract. If a player is under contract, he’s employed by the team and subject to the CBA. The only players who are truly “not working” are unrestricted free agents in the period of time between when their last contract ended and when they sign a new one.

  7. kacapaco says: Nov 28, 2012 11:06 AM

    People who think Adderall isn’t PED are idiots. Even though Adderall doesn’t increase muscle mass, IT ENHANCES PERFORMANCE by helping them gain extra focus. In a game that demands mental acuity as much as physical prowess, that unnatural extra advantage gained from the drug is cheating!!!!

  8. cwwgk says: Nov 28, 2012 11:16 AM

    Using this analysis, the league shouldn’t ban the use of any drug in the offseason since it wouldn’t affect a player’s performance on the field.

    The NFL is a private employer, not the U.S. Government. As with every other private employer, the league is entitled to enact rules and regulations for its workforce; i.e., the players.

    Adderall is classified a schedule II drug by the Food and Drug Administration. It is an amphetamine. One of the main reasons Adderall is a schedule II drug is because of its high risk potential for addiction.

    Prescription drug abuse is a monumental problem in this country. Adderall and other prescribed amphetamines are abused by thousands of people daily. The NFL is well within its rights to place limitations on its workforce as it relates to Adderall.

    There is no constitutional right for players to take any drug they want. Similarly, there no legal prohibition against the league, or any employer, from prohibiting its employees from taking mind altering drugs.

    There is a system in place for players who need Adderall to get an exemption from the NFL. Those players who truly need to take medication are allowed to.

    There truly is no issue with this policy of the NFL.

  9. FinFan68 says: Nov 28, 2012 11:17 AM

    It is a banned substance and there are procedures in place to “legally” take it in the NFL. These guys are either taking the drug for an advantage, using it to mask other drugs or are simply too stupid to follow basic guidelines. All three cases warrant a suspension. Complaining about the ban is ridiculous. It is there for good reason. Complain about the idiots, not the rules they break.

  10. toddbronson1 says: Nov 28, 2012 11:19 AM

    Or you know, the league could not ban a substance that can be prescribed by a doctor.

  11. thefhaloanguy says: Nov 28, 2012 11:31 AM

    What is so hard to understand. It is natural for a bureaucracy to want to control you. Just look at other bureaucracies they all seek more power.

  12. jasonsmith950 says: Nov 28, 2012 12:12 PM

    It makes the list of banned substances black and white. Once you start having exceptions for drugs taken in the offseason and during the season it creates more room for players excuses.

  13. tfaulk says: Nov 28, 2012 12:17 PM

    I don’t get the logic of this argument at all: Should the league not care if players are smoking weed or blowing coke in the off season too?

    If the dumbass got a prescription for a legitimate medical use and didn’t fill out the medical exception forms, then he is guilty of being an idiot. Plain and simple. On or off season has no bearing.

  14. coolzog says: Nov 28, 2012 12:33 PM

    Adderall, as well asother amphetamine stimulants allow people to physically train harder and longer in the offseason. It’s effects are not simply on the brain, but as well as the heart and muscles. Also it can cause weight loss for those players that need it.

    It certainly is more performance enhancing than Starcaps ever was…

  15. realfann says: Nov 28, 2012 2:10 PM

    This article reeks of the desperation that seems to have taken over this site.

    I assume readership is down and there’s pressure to increase page hits but that really doesn’t excuse ridiculous articles like this that just pose contrary arguments for the sake of being contrary.

    Because anybody who can spare a couple of minutes thought can quickly see the flaws in a drug program that allows and disallows drug usage based on the calandar. It’s just plain daft.

  16. eaglesw00t says: Nov 28, 2012 3:36 PM

    I dont know of any doctor that would give a prescription of adderall for a one time use.

    If he was having trouble with public speaking, or panic attacks, he would be given something more like Xanex or Valium…and only a few pills for that specific day.

    Not a full fledged adderall prescription. As mentioned above, adderall for someone who does not have adhd, just makes you an edgy mess.

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