Number of Baseball Players Diagnosed with ADHD Suspicious

A congressional hearing on the Mitchell Report suggested that the radical increase in the number of Major League Baseball players diagnosed with ADHD may be linked to drug abuse.

Wednesday January 16th - 8:19am

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing yesterday about the Mitchell Report, a document put together by former Senate majority leader George Mitchell that investigated the abuse of performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. During the hearing, MLB commissioner Bud Selig and the players' union leader Donald Fehr were asked a multitude of questions about their involvement with and knowledge of drug abuse by MLB players.

Many of the questions regarded therapeutic-use exemptions (TUEs), which are issued to players who take a medication, which would otherwise be considered illegal, for the treatment of an illness. To get a TUE, a player needs to get a prescription from a doctor, their file is then reviewed by an independent administrator, and their TUE is approved or denied based on that review.

While this process seems well safeguarded, the number of MLB players receiving TUEs for Ritalin or "Ritalin-like substances" for the treatment of ADHD increased from 30 in 2006 to 103 in 2007. Dr. Russell Barkley, a well-known ADHD expert, weighed in on the matter saying that while children with ADHD are often drawn to sports, which could explain the relatively high number, the sharp increase in one year is more difficult to explain.

While those players receiving a TUE are presumed to have a legitimate diagnosis, and in fact could become role models for children with ADHD, the Mitchell Report brings some doubt to the validity of their claims.

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