Cocaine Use in the Major League – Baseball’s Other Drug Problem

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In the 1980s, Keith Hernandez admitted that not only did he use cocaine himself, but he estimated 40 percent of major league baseball players at the time did as well. Other major league players also testified about the widespread use of cocaine in baseball.

It was an eye-opener for many. The Pittsburgh drug trials brought to light the darker side of baseball. Unfortunately, cocaine abuse did not stop after the trials and continues to this day.

On September 25, 2016, Marlins’ pitcher, Jose Fernandez was involved in a deadly boat crash. He and two friends were killed. Toxicology results later revealed that Fernandez was both legally drunk and had used cocaine.

History of Cocaine Use in Baseball

Many fans assume that after the Pittsburgh drug trials of the 1980s, drug use had ended in the sport. The public also assumed that all baseball players are randomly drug tested, which is not the case. While players have to be tested for performance-enhancing steroids, they aren’t tested for drugs. Alas, for legal reasons, a single player cannot be targeted for drug testing without just cause.

Many players begin using cocaine for its short-term performance-enhancing attributes stating that cocaine increases alertness and energy while boosting sensory hypersensitivity. Although these effects are short-lived, it is easy for a player to use cocaine in the restroom at the ball field before he plays.

New Information on Cocaine Use in MLB

Andy Martino recently interviewed baseball players on the condition of anonymity for an article in the Huffington Post about the sport’s current cocaine use. Most of the players he interviewed estimated that 25 percent of Major League Baseball players use cocaine. One source admitted that during his career he used cocaine only a handful of times, but smoked marijuana in about 150 of his 400 games.

Ironically, Minor League Baseball permits random drug testing and tests come back positive 0.5 percent of the time. However, these players admit that promotions are often celebrated with cocaine and marijuana use.

Baseball’s Future as it Pertains to Drug Use

It is clear from multiple interviews that both marijuana and cocaine use in baseball is common, with cocaine abuse remaining very high. Cocaine is a highly addictive drug. Once a player indulges in the drug culture of the sport, it often becomes difficult for him to stop, resulting in addiction.

With about one-quarter of all M.L.B. players using the drug, if random testing were permitted, what would happen to the sport? Would players be suspended? Would players play as well without the drugs in their system? There are many questions that are yet to be answered about cocaine and baseball’s future.

An Ongoing Drug Problem in Sports

Undeniably, cocaine continues to plague the sport to this day. It is astounding that after cocaine caused so much damage to the sport in the 1980s, that more regulations were not enacted to prevent players from using drugs. Until the Major Leagues decide to put an end to cocaine and other drug abuse in baseball, players will continue to indulge in the activity, putting their lives and the sport they love at risk.


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