Olympic Bronze Medalist Withdraws from Race as She Awaits Exemption for 'Life Changing' ADHD Medication

Molly Seidel told fans she would not be competing as planned this weekend because she is waiting for approval to race while taking the ADHD medication Adderall

Runner Molly Seidel
Photo: Molly Seidel/Instagram

Molly Seidel is prioritizing her mental health over everything else — even racing.

The U.S. Olympic marathoner, who won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Games in 2020, shared a candid Instagram post on Wednesday detailing why she would not be competing in this weekend's Mastercard New York Mini 10K.

Seidel, 27, said that she had recently started taking "life-changing" medication for her newly diagnosed combined-type ADHD, and that her use of it during competition would not be approved in time for the upcoming race.

"Since I can't stop my medication without some serious mental health ramifications I will not compete with Adderall in my system until I have full approval," wrote Seidel, who lives in Cambridge, Mass. "I'm committed to a clean sport and respecting my own mental health needs."

While Adderall is approved for use by athletes out of competition, she explained, a special therapeutic use exemption is required to race. Seidel has applied for the TUE, but the process is lengthy and the approval will not be granted by this weekend's race. The Mini 10K would have been her first competition since dropping out of the Boston Marathon in April.

Seidel said she wanted to "provide some transparency about competing and abiding by #cleansport while taking medication."

While she felt "gutted" to pull out of the race, it was important to her be honest about why. "When it comes to mental health stuff I've tried to be as open as possible, in an effort to de-stigmatize the fact that even pros deal with this," she said.

RELATED VIDEO: Simone Biles Says Walking Out of Tokyo Olympics Event Was 'My Biggest Win'

She also opened up about her reticence to take medication, describing her years-long mental health journey.

"I've been pretty anti-medication for years now due to some terrible reactions to multiple SSRIs I was placed on. Nothing ever seemed to work, and oftentimes after a few weeks, a new med would lead me to a really dark place. So I chose to live without medication and deal with my mental health struggles through therapy alone, which helps but honestly can be extremely difficult."

It wasn't until she switched therapists earlier this year that she received her ADHD diagnosis and started taking the stimulant Adderall. "It would probably be appropriate to describe it as life-changing, and for the first time, I felt like I was able to get the quiet, functioning brain in my day-to-day life that I could previously only achieve with intense physical activity. It also gave me remission of many eating disorders behaviors that I've dealt with consistently since my teens."

Seidel joins the list of athletes who speak openly about caring for their mental health, from Simone Biles to Michael Phelps.

"Mental health takes work, and I want to be transparent about the fact that medication is sometimes a necessary part of that work," Seidel said.

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