Bloomberg News

Buccaneers’ Wright Is Latest NFL Player Banned for Adderall Use

November 27, 2012

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Eric Wright will miss the team’s next four games after his appeal of a ban for violating the National Football League’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs by using the prescription drug Adderall was denied.

Wright, 27, joined the Buccaneers in March after signing a five-year, $37.5 million contract. He started this season’s first 10 games before sitting out a 24-23 loss to Atlanta two days ago with an Achilles tendon injury.

Wright said in a statement that the NFL suspension was the result of taking Adderall in July for “health issues.” Adderall is a stimulant used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, and Wright said yesterday he was extremely disappointed that the discipline was upheld.

Former Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib, who’s now with the New England Patriots, also received a four-game ban this season for Adderall. New York Giants safeties Will Hill and Tyler Sash, Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Joe Hawley said their suspensions earlier this year were also because of Adderall.

Seattle Seahawks starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are facing four-game suspensions for the use of the stimulant, according to ESPN.

“This is a widespread issue throughout the National Football League right now, it isn’t Tampa exclusive,” Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano said at a news conference. “I hope we educate our guys, we talk to them quite a bit. You do your best and then you have to trust the guys.”

A player can receive a “therapeutic use exemption” for Adderall if he submits a doctor’s prescription to the league before using it. The stimulant has been on the NFL’s list of banned performance-enhancing drugs since 2006.

Boosts Energy

Leah Lagos, a New York-based sports psychologist who’s helped provide NFL teams with player evaluations for the draft, said Adderall can significantly help a player increase focus, decrease anxiety and provide an energy boost.

“It’s like taking 100 cups of coffee,” Lagos said in a telephone interview. “You’re operating faster, you’re paying more attention and those can be very performance-enhancing characteristics for a football player who’s tired after a long practice or looking for an extra edge before a game.”

Side Effects

Lagos said there can be serious side effects of Adderall use, even for those with prescriptions, and there needs to be more education about abuse of the drug. She said it’s an addictive, brain-altering substance that can have effects that mimic a schizophrenic break, paranoia and hallucinations.

The drug is made by Dublin-based Shire Plc. (SHP)

“The long-term effects of Adderall use are still relatively unknown,” Lagos said.

Wright, who had an interception return for a touchdown this season, will miss games against the Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints and St. Louis Rams. He’ll be eligible to return for Tampa Bay’s season-ending game in Atlanta on Dec. 30.

The Buccaneers are 6-5 and trail the Falcons by four games in the National Football Conference South.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net


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