(NEW YORK) — Unlike championship rival Alabama, the team doctor for Notre Dame football, Dr. James Moriarity, told ABC News he does not rule out the “occasional use” of the controversial painkiller Toradol on game days to treat Fighting Irish players if “medically indicated.”
By contrast, Alabama team doctor Dr. James Robinson said he has “never used it” on Crimson Tide players and will not use it during the BCS National Championship Game on Monday.
“I’ve actually been against it the whole time,” Robinson told ABC News over the weekend in Miami, where the BCS game will be played. “It’s something we’ve never done.”
Monday’s game takes place amid a growing controversy in college and professional sports over the use of painkillers on players in general, and of Toradol specifically because of the possible increased risks cited on its label of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and internal bleeding.
Toradol was developed for use in hospitals for the short-term treatment of post-operative pain but over the last decade has found its way into team training rooms in major sports.
“It’s a good pain medication,” Robinson, the Alabama team doctor, said. “So post-operatively, and after an acute injury before we get them to surgery, things like that, we’ve used the medication… But we don’t use it as a preventative medicine if you will.”
Prior to the ABC News interviews with the two doctors over the weekend, college officials at Notre Dame and Alabama had refused to answer questions about whether its football players were given the powerful painkiller on game days.
An ABC News investigation found the generic version of Toradol is still being used in college and professional football programs across the country even as many team doctors have stopped using it because of concerns about the various risks.
Robinson said the use of such painkillers goes against his philosophy.
“If they’re too injured, they’re too hurt to play, we don’t let them play,” he told ABC News.
Notre Dame’s Moriarity said he only administers the oral version of the painkiller and has not used Toradol injections “most of this year.”
Moriarity denied the use of Toradol does not give injured Notre Dame players an edge, but said the painkiller is used on game days. “When else would you use it?” he said.
“We have used it for people in pain from certain circumstances,” he said. Moriarty would not elaborate on specifics but said, “I don’t think you could say it allowed them to play when they couldn’t otherwise.”
Moriarity said Notre Dame asks, “Are they fit to play?”
The ABC News report on Toradol focused on a former USC lineman, Armond Armstead, who claims in a lawsuit that a season-long series of Toradol injections by the team doctor resulted in a heart attack he suffered following the 2010 season.
The USC team doctor, Dr. James Tibone, told ABC News he continues to use Toradol injections on game day for injured players but said such shots did not involve any risk.
“These are healthy people,” he told ABC News.
The NCAA does not regulate or keep track of the use of painkillers or Toradol, unlike professional sports leagues. NCAA officials have declined to comment on the ABC News reports.
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