A Swing, But Not So Much a Miss: Is it fair for Orioles player Chris Davis to be Suspended for 25 Games?

By Tori Venable
Elm Staff Writer

It is safe to say that Baltimore has not had a great week in the world of sports. The beginning of the week brought us surveillance tapes that proved previous assault allegations against Raven’s football player Ray Rice. The week closed with the Major League Baseball giving Chris Davis a 25 game suspension for testing positively for amphetamines. Ouch.

Now, if you are a true Marylander, this last piece of news hurts. The Orioles are having a great season and currently have a 10 game lead, but we have less than 20 games left before the American League Division Series. Knowing that the Birds will be going into the ALDS with ease, we are now one more hitter short for the first eight games of postseason after already losing Manny Machado and Matt Weiters.

Davis, known mostly for his power surge last season, released an apologetic statement claiming that he had a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) in the past but did not have permission to use the amphetamine, Adderall, this season.

Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant that is often prescribed to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

So, here is the question: should amphetamines such as Adderall be treated like steroids in the MLB? As much as I support the movement in the MLB to rid players of performance enhancers, I have to say no. Unlike the steroids used in baseball, Adderall has legal, prescribed uses for patients with learning and behavioral differences. Assuming that Davis had a doctor’s prescription for the medicine and did not break any laws beyond his contract with MLB, I hate to see his use of medicine receive such harsh reprimanding. Yes, I realize that this 25 game suspension is much less than the 50-game penalty given to steroid users, but lets get some perspective on the effects of both drugs.

Steroids are used to enhance the physical performance of players while amphetamines are used to enable performance by increasing attentiveness and mental clarity. Adderall is commonly associated with bursts of energy and increased focus, not the dramatic and harmful effect often caused by steroids.

However, this does not excuse the abuse of amphetamines. Adderall is a drug with a high risk of abuse due to its addictive nature. It is not yet clear if Davis has a prescription to be using this drug but he did admit that the MLB had not approved it. If the issue is that he did not have a prescription to be using Adderall, this should be handled in the same manner that any prescription drug abuse would be in the MLB, whatever protocol that may be.

You might ask, why does this matter? Well, here is my main qualm with the suspensivon: how do you explain to your child why his idol, a popular Orioles player, is being punished for using the same drug he takes for his ADHD? As we try to rid the major leagues of performance enhancing substances lets keep in mind that we still need to rid the country of the stigma around mental health.

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