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Are NFL players really taking Adderall?

Adderall has quickly become the automatic excuse for players failing drug tests in the NFL. Are the players all quietly struggling with ADHD, or are they using the confidentiality agreement the players association has with the NFL to their advantage?

Both Aqib Talib and Eric Wright claim Adderall made them fail their drug tests.
Both Aqib Talib and Eric Wright claim Adderall made them fail their drug tests.

Eric Wright is the second Buccaneer this season to be suspended for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Like teammate Aqib Talib, Wright claims that the prescription drug Adderall is to blame for his failed drug test. The NFL has seen quite a few cases of players taking Adderall this season. Three New York Giants have claimed Adderall made them fail drug tests and Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden claimed Adderall is the reason he failed his drug test this past summer.

Why are all of these players suddenly taking Adderall? Well, to put it bluntly, they probably aren't. Due to a confidentiality agreement the player's union has with the NFL, the drug for which a player tests positive for will never be released to the public. This means a player could test positive for any number of substances and still claim they took Adderall. It is viewed as a fairly common drug, one in which thousands upon thousands of Americans take every day to deal with attention deficit issues. Claiming Adderall as the reason for a positive drug test can save a player's reputation and somewhat help them avoid the label of "cheater".

While it's certainly possible that both Aqib Talib and Eric Wright really did take Adderall, we'll never really know. Even if a player has a prescription for Adderall they must still file an exemption with the league office for the drug. Of the three Giants that claimed Adderall, only running back Andre Brown had his suspension lifted. Brown had filed the exemption paperwork, but it had not gone through before he tested positive. As the NFL would surely not lift a suspension for testing positive for something else, we can safely assume Andre Brown really took Adderall. He is the only player that is beyond the cloud of suspicion in this writer's opinion.

While a prescription may not be enough, it's not like the NFL is springing this exemption stuff on the players. Adderall has been on the list of banned substances since 2006, and the NFL has made it abundantly clear to all players and agents that an exemption must be filed for both Adderall and Ritalin. It seems strange that all the players claim confusion as to the exemption process, especially with all the press the drug has gotten recently.

Until the NFL finds a way around the current language of the confidentiality agreement, we can basically expect every single player that tests positive for PEDS to claim it was only Adderall. I guess that's better than the former go-to excuse of supplements that were magically tainted.