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.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.