Last week, to no one's surprise, the FIM finally closed the amphetamine-doping case of James 'Bubba' Stewart. The FIM upheld an earlier ban which was appealed by Bubba’s team, Yoshimura Suzuki.
They were being naive—if not disingenuous—by implying that it was ‘just Adderall’ as in, 'not real amphetamines'. Adderall is speed. It’s fancy, pharmaceutical grade, patented speed, but it’s speed.
As if baffled, Bubba, sent out a release saying, basically, “But I have a TUE...” The thing is, he didn’t apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption until after he was caught. If he actually had a prescription before the 2014 Seattle SX event, Yosh should’ve made that clear. If such is the case, Yosh and Bubba are, according to the letter of the rules, still guilty. But they’re guilty of not following procedure—as opposed to guilty of cheating in search of a competitive advantage.
Regular readers know that I’m not inclined to kiss WADA’s (the World Anti-Doping Agency’s) ass. And I freely admit that I don’t know or care much about Bubba’s case in particular.
But there’s an overwhelming consensus among sport scientists, sports medicine, and PED specialists that Adderall use does confer a competitive advantage.
According to Dr. Gary Wadler, past chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List Committee, “It masks fatigue, masks pain, increases arousal—like being in The Zone. [And] it increases alertness, aggressiveness, attention and concentration. It improves reaction time, especially when fatigued. Some think it enhances hand-eye coordination. Some believe it increases the mental aspects of performance.”
I.E., unlike steroids, which are of questionable benefit to motorcycle racers because massive strength is superfluous while increased body mass is an actual disadvantage, Adderall is a perfect performance enhancer in our sport.
That fact intersects with this one: ‘legal’ (prescribed) Adderall use is at least 10 times as common in the U.S than in almost any other country.
Seriously. As many as 20% of American boys have prescriptions for Adderall or similar drugs, while about 1.5% of French boys ‘need’ to be medicated. Don't get me started; American doctors are falling over themselves to prescribe it. We’re at a point where anyone in the U.S.—anyone—can easily get a prescription for Adderall.
Considering the overwhelming evidence that most Americans’ Adderall prescriptions are both unnecessary and likely harmful, WADA should at the very least review each application for an Adderall TUE and insist on an independent medical exam. But they don’t.
By contrast, TUEs for substances like HGH require clinically measurable evidence of deficiency. The only people who qualify for a testosterone TUE are female-to-male transexuals. But any American can easily get a doctor’s prescription for Adderall and, after filling out some paperwork, use the drug to gain a competitive advantage on the race track.
Foreign racers should be pissed off that is there a Therapeutic Use Exemption for Adderall at all. Many sports—even baseball, perhaps the most American of of them all—ban it outright.
WADA and the FIM have created a situation in which, before long, racers will be pressured to use Adderall to level the playing field, in spite of mounting evidence that its use comes with deleterious short and long term side effects. At the very least, the FIM should release statistics on the number of Adderall TUEs.
Better yet, it’s time for the FIM to grow some balls (or, just give itself a TUE for testosterone) and ban Adderall once and for all.