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Opioids Newsbeat

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Opioids in Baseball: “More people are going to die if this doesn’t get fixed”

Editor’s Note: The following story contains both reporting and opinion/editorial content.

On July 1, Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs asphyxiated while under the influence of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his Texas hotel room. Last weekend, ESPN reported that Eric Kay, the Los Angeles Angels’ Director of Communications, knew that Skaggs was an Oxycontin addict, is an addict himself, and purchased opioids for Skaggs and used them with him on multiple occasions. Kay has told DEA agents that, apart from Skaggs, at least five other Angels players are opioid users. He reportedly also told DEA agents that other high-ranking Angels executives were aware of Skaggs’ opioid use. The Angels have denied that the team was aware of Skaggs’ addiction or Kay’s involvement until the ESPN report came out.

Last week news surfaced that Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are in conversations about possibly expanding baseball’s drug testing regime to include opioids. There has been relative silence, however, regarding Kay’s allegations that several players on a given team could be abusing opioids and that team officials could be aware of such use. An MLB spokesperson said that “MLB was unaware of any of these allegations. MLB will fully cooperate with the government investigation and conduct its own investigation when the government investigation is completed.” That’s an understandable position for the league to take given the ongoing investigation.

But one can’t help but wonder what those in and around the game think about Kay’s claims to law enforcement. To that end, I spoke with six baseball sources to get their insight.

The six men with whom I spoke differ when it comes to assessing the specific scope of baseball’s opioid problem. They differ on how many players use, the knowledge and/or understanding on the part of clubs and league officials of the problem and whether Skaggs’ death and the fallout from it will bring forth changes in the way the league approaches players’ drug use.

 

QLE Posted: October 22, 2019 at 12:17 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: opioids

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

MLB in talks to implement opioid testing as early as 2020

In the wake of the death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs from a mixture of oxycodone, fentanyl, and alcohol in June, Major League Baseball is in talks with the Major League Baseball Players Association to start testing MLB ballplayers for opioids as early as the 2020 season.

“We have been in active discussions with the Players Association about changes to our joint drug program to address opioid use, and I am cautiously optimistic that we will find common ground on this very important issue,” deputy commissioner Dan Halem told The Athletic on Monday.

According to Evan Drellich of The Athletic, both parties have come to the table and are receptive to the change, a major departure from the past when MLB and the MLBPA butted heads on expanded testing for performance-enhancing drugs. There is currently no testing for opioids under the Joint Drug Agreement between MLB and the MLBPA, though opioids are a banned substance.

Skaggs’ death, which devastated the Angels and all of MLB, is the impetus for this possible change. The cause of death was unknown until the end of August, when the Tarrant County (Texas) Medical Examiner announced that Skaggs had choked on his own vomit after ingesting a combination of two opioids (oxycodone and fentanyl) and alcohol. In mid-October, ESPN reported that an Angels employee, himself addicted to opioids, had sold Skaggs and several other Angels players opioids. It was also reported that several Angels employees knew about Skaggs’ addiction to opioids for months or even years, and did nothing to help him receive treatment.

As always, my apologies- the source article is behind a paywall for me.

 

QLE Posted: October 16, 2019 at 12:40 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: mlb, opioids, testing

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Major League Baseball has an opioid problem. Now what?

Jumping ahead to materials not being discussed in other threads:

But there’s a broader problem here: is it not starting to look like Major League Baseball has a major, major problem with opioid addiction?

One player is dead. A team employee — also an addict — was involved in the player’s drug acquisition and use. And not just some rogue outside trainer or a guy who wears a mascot costume. It was a long-standing and high-ranking front office employee. And that’s before you get to the part where, if he is to be believed, a full 20% of the Angels’ big league roster abuses opioids as well.

Which is to say that Major League Baseball, in all likelihood, does have a major, major problem with opioid addiction. It seems logical that it would extend beyond the Angels, at least. From gambling and throwing games in the early days of the game to alcohol addiction during its alleged “Golden Age” to cocaine in the 1970s and 80s and on to PEDs in the 90s and early 2000s, vice and/or addiction in Major League Baseball always — always — extends to more than one club. Players on other teams are rivals but they’re also friends, interact and socialize both during and after the season. They all face the same pressures and temptations and are thus all subject to the same addictions. And that’s before you acknowledge — which we must — that the opioid epidemic our nation has seen over the past decade respects few if any social, cultural, or economic boundaries. If five guys on a team are using, you can bet there are many more on other teams as well.

So what does Major League Baseball do about it?

Some thoughts on a broader issue in the sport, by a longtime site associate.

 

QLE Posted: October 13, 2019 at 12:18 AM | 42 comment(s)
  Beats: mlb, opioids

Saturday, September 07, 2019

MLB, union to discuss opioids testing after Skaggs death

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball and the players’ association will discuss the possibility of more widespread testing for opioids following the death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1 before the start of a series against the Texas Rangers. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office said the 27-year-old died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his body.

A toxicology report said his blood alcohol concentration was 0.122%, well above Texas’s alcohol limit of 0.08% for driving, and 3.8 nanograms per milliliter of fentanyl.

Players on 40-man rosters are tested for drugs of abuse such as opioids only if the player-management joint treatment board finds reasonable cause, if a player has been found to have used or possessed a drug of abuse, or if a player is subjected to testing under a treatment program. All players on 40-man rosters are subject to testing for banned performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids and for banned stimulants.

 

QLE Posted: September 07, 2019 at 12:07 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: mlbpa, opioids, testing

 

 

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