Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Since We're on the Topic of Doping...

Scott sent me this link to an article in Slate that reports on a recent "doping" trend in baseball. Players are getting doctors to write them prescriptions for medication designed to combat Attention Deficit Disorder. It just so happens that this medication (a stimulant) can also enhance perception and improve performance on the baseball field. It also turns out that Major League baseball players suddenly suffer from ADD at a much higher rate than the rest of the population.

Are they able to get away with it because of the strong players union? Because the powers-that-be believe they need it to function normally in society (maybe they do)? Because MLB doesn't yet recognize the drugs' performance enhancing effects?

3 comments:

SM Sprenger said...

In the beginning , the MLB probably allowed it because the drug is widely prescribed for a specific condition--it didn't immediately seem like a form of doping. Now they are in a kind of trap because they are no doubt some people who really need and there is little way to distinguish between medical treatment and doping.

Ophir Sefiha said...

doc's writing dubious 'scripts is of course nothing new and as SM S noted, there's little way to adjudicate who really 'needs' a certain medication.
Historically, these type of modifications (lasik, beta blockers, ADD and ADHD drugs, etc) fail to provoke moral outrage reserved for other corporal forms of performance enhancement. Not b/c they don't shake the level playing field (they most certainly do) but b/c they are not ingested w/ a needle or a pill. They are framed as 'corrective'. The close association between 'recreational' drug use and performance enhancing drug use is what marks our outrage. Just look at the media discourses used to describe those who use EPO, HGH, steroids, etc-it nearly mirrors the 'recreational' drug addict.

history has shown that MLB and the union will only respond when they believe they will be scolded. these types of enhancements will not get any senators worked up. Don't you think???

SM Sprenger said...

Good point about "the needle"--this also explains the perception of moral difference between drugs that are usually sniffed, like cocaine, or heroin, that are shot with needles. The public seems to accept cocaine whereas heroin is beyond the pale--largely because of the needle... People might get riled up about baseballers once the general usage of Ritalin crosses a clear line of abuse. I think another mitigating factor with Ritalin, as I mentioned in the last post, is that the impact is diluted by multiple skills involved in baseball (vs. cycling, for example). Since it's harder to demonstrate a direct and dramatic improvement people seem willing to let it go.