1 In 10 MLB Players Took Adderall This Season

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As part of MLB's drug testing agreement, the program administrator released a public annual report on the findings from the past year. The latest just landed in our inbox. Let's explore!

1) The total number of drug tests that were collected and analyzed for performance enhancing substances and/or stimulants during the time listed above was 5136 tests. This total includes 3955 urine tests and 1181 blood tests.

2) Eighteen tests were reported by the testing laboratory for having an adverse analytical finding that resulted in discipline. The substances reported were as follows:

Performance Enhancing Substances (7)
Clenbuterol (1)
Clostebol (1)
Tamoxifen (1)
Testosterone (4)

Stimulants (11)
Adderall (10)
d-amphetamine (1)

3) 119 Therapeutic Use Exemptions were granted. The diagnoses were as follows:

Attention Deficit Disorder: 116
Hypertension: 2
Hypogonadism: 1

Because you were absolutely wondering, "Hypogonadism in men is a condition that occurs when the testicles (also called gonads) do not produce enough testosterone."

Otherwise, just 0.35 percent of tests came back positive. Pretty good guys! But those Adderall exemption numbers are worth a look.


In 2008, there were 106 medical exemptions granted for the use of ADHD medication. In 2009 there were 108, and in both 2010 and 2011, 105 granted. At first glance, 2012's 116 exemptions represents a minor bump. But earlier this year, MLB changed its procedures to make it more difficult for players to gain an exemption; now they have to get the approval of a three-expert panel. So presuming the step was accurate, and the exemptions are harder to obtain, the number of players seeking the medical go-ahead to take Adderall has gone up significantly.

Between the exemptions and the players who were suspended, 126 players used Adderall this season—that we know of. At any given time there are 1280 players on 40-man rosters, so very nearly one in 10 players were on stimulants. Unlike in football, where most of the suspended players appear to have taken the drugs recreationally, there are very good reasons for baseball players to turn to prescription amphetamines. The grind of a 162-game season, the hours of tedium broken up by the sudden need to be at peak alertness, the day games after the night games, and the importance of focus and hand-eye coordination all contribute to a sports that doesn't quite demand Adderall use, but definitely encourages it. Like the steroid era pre-testing, if you're not popping, you're not trying—only this time, players can do it with the explicit permission of a doctor, and of MLB.