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Where’s The Outrage Over This Performance Enhancing Drug?

By Mike Silva ~ April 9th, 2012. Filed under: New York Mets.

Do you really think baseball or any of our American sports are drug free? I am not talking about narcotics, steroids or even amphetamines. I am talking about legal, over-the-counter type of drugs that may be used a bit more than normal.

Earlier this year, HBO’s Real Sports did a profile on the painkiller Toradol. ”You drop your pants, you get the alcohol, they give you a shot, put the Band-Aid on, you go out and play,” Chicago Bears LB Brian Urlacher told interviewer Andrea Kremer. “Not that big of a deal.”

Except, it may be a big deal.

Kramer pointed out that side effects include kidney failure and gastrointestinal bleeding. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York spoke to an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at St. Louis College of Pharmacy that pointed out it shouldn’t be used regularly, and probably not for more than 5 days. Both Mike Pelfrey and R.A. Dickey recently admitted they have regularly used the drug to get through the season. Johan Santana received an injection last week to relieve aches and pains.

Where’s the outrage in the media? Where’s the outrage with the asterisk- loving portion of the fan base? How much of a grey area is Toradol versus amphetamines? Greenies are bad, but Toradol is ok? Is the grey area the FDA? Because that government body would always do the right thing over politics and bureaucracy, right?

I have heard the argument that steroids ruined the game because it allowed certain players at an unfair advantage. Take this excerpt from a recent column by Dave Lennon of Newsday:

David Wright received a cortisone shot during spring training to help heal his abdominal strain. … But that focus on one particular area does not produce the same overall feeling of invulnerability that Pelfrey described after getting his shots of Toradol, which he regularly did an hour before his starts if something was bothering him. “You don’t feel anything,” Pelfrey said. “If someone punched me in the stomach, I wouldn’t feel it.”

That sounds like an advantage to me.

I am not suggesting that steroids should be legalized. What I am saying is how it’s foolish to believe athletes can perform at a high level on a daily basis without the help of drugs. As science advances, there are going to be other legal ways of simulating some of the same invincibility that came with using steroids. In my opinion, most of the steroid advantage was the feeling that you were better than you really are; a huge lift in a game where the difference in talent level is razor thin, and often more psychological.

So could we call Toradol a performance enhancing drug?

The bigger concern is the side effect this drug produces. I wonder if Baseball or any other professional sports league will look into this because of health concerns. Or does the fact a government body deems it acceptable make it more of a “hands off” scenario.

Because the FDA would never be driven by politics, lobbying and corporate dollars, right?

Better yet, how does it look that health professionals- in this case the NFL and MLB- are misusing the drug?

Interesting situation for Bud Selig, wouldn’t you say?

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6 Responses to Where’s The Outrage Over This Performance Enhancing Drug?

  1. Metro12

    Mike, you say that MLB is “misusing” this drug. But that is not what’s been reported. If a MLB player gets this shot with adequate time in-between shots, then it’s not misusing the drug. And some claim the dangers are being overblown.

    You know why some differentiate drugs like toradol from steroids? Because the latter has the potential to help you build muscle in an unnatural way that you couldn’t otherwise accomplish. It can physically alter the athlete. But toradol and other similar drugs don’t do that. That’s a big difference. Apples and oranges, IMO.

    I’m not sure what your motive is for comparing the two drugs the way you did. Are you trying to defend steroids users like Braun and Clemens?

  2. Mike Silva


    I was being facetious in the article, at points, but the fact remain that Toradol wasn’t mean to be used regularly as it was described in Real Sports and with the Mets.

    It sounds like it is also being used to make a player “feel good,” not in just extreme situations. Kind of like how steroids were used.

    I was more discussing the process and thinking, not comparing drug A to drug B.

    Am I defending steroid guys? No, but I also don’t think we should go crazy like we do since there is plenty of legal drugs enhancing ability. The grey area is legal vs. illegal and the FDA.

    Remember, there are lots of illegal over-the-counter stuff today that wasn’t legal in the late-90s.

    Ephedra is one of those examples.

  3. AV

    I remember the HBO Real Sports story. NFL players were getting the shot on Sundays before the game. If MLB pitchers are getting it before each start, that’s once every five days as opposed to once every seven days. In other words, pitchers are getting the shot with greater frequency than football players and the HBO story talked about side effects with football players. It would seem exposing pitchers to Toradol would have a greater impact in that context.

  4. Chuck

    Amphetamines are not performance enhancers.

  5. Mike Silva

    Chuck I agree, but MLB apparently doesn’t

  6. Metro12

    Mike, according to what we’ve read, the Mets starters use it every five days. From what I’ve read, they only advise against using it consecutively for 5 days or so. So there is no indication so far that the Mets or any other baseball team is misusing it.

    As for using it merely to “feel good,” no one is alleging that with the Mets. Pelfrey said feeling good was the side effect but he was taking it for inflammation and pain.

    So I think you are taking liberties with how the Mets usage has been described in the media so far. Now I would have issues if the usage of Toradol was being used recklessly or they didn’t consult the team doctors. But we have no indication that is the case.

    Am I defending steroid guys? No, but I also don’t think we should go crazy like we do since there is plenty of legal drugs enhancing ability. The grey area is legal vs. illegal and the FDA.

    Sorry, but it sounds like that’s exactly what you are doing. And Toradol doesn’t technically enhance ability. It blocks pain so an athlete can perform up to their god-given ability. But steroids on the other hand actually do enhance ability. They give an athlete capabilities (strength, speed) that they wouldn’t have otherwise. That is something which you seem to be ignoring.

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