More Exemptions in Baseball for Amphetamines
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT
Published: January 9, 2009
Baseball officials opened a window into their drug-testing program Friday, reporting that 14 players had first-time positive tests for amphetamines in 2008 and that the number of players granted therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit disorder " and thus cleared to use amphetamine-like stimulants " grew slightly despite efforts to make it more difficult to obtain exemptions.
The disclosure of the numbers came in response to recommendations made by George J. Mitchell in the report that he issued a little over a year ago on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Mitchell urged that the testing program be made more transparent through the release of periodic reports.
The number of positive tests for amphetamines is significant because baseball had never disclosed such numbers, making it harder to gauge how widespread the use of stimulants was. Testing for amphetamines did not even begin until the 2006 season
, and a player who tests positive for the first time is neither penalized nor publicly identified, although he is referred for counseling. A second positive test results in a 25-game suspension.
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It's ridiculous how long MLB got away with such lax drug testing. Even now compared to the more stringent drug testing programs in professional sports, their testing remains a complete joke.