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In one of Major League Baseball’s most stunning performance-enhancing drug busts this decade, Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano was suspended for 80 games for violating the game’s drug policy, taking down one of the game’s highest paid players and a likely future Hall of Famer.
MLB announced that Cano tested positive in the off-season for Furosemide, a diuretic.
Diuretics are banned by most major sports organizations and can be abused by athletes to mask the presence of other banned substances, or to excrete water for weight loss.
Cano and his representatives, however, insist that he took Furosemide as prescribed by a doctor in the Dominican Republic for a medical condition; they insist it was not a performance-enhancing drug.
MLB and the players’ association’s joint drug agreement stipulates that the “presence of a Diuretic or Masking Agent in a Player’s urine specimen shall be treated as a positive test result if the (independent program administrator) determines that the Player intended to avoid detection of his use of another Prohibited Substance.”
Cano offered an alternate explanation.
“Recently I learned that I tested positive for a substance called Furosemide, which is not a Performance Enhancing Substance,’’ Cano said in a statement issued by the Major League Players Association. “Furosemide is used to treat various medical conditions in the United States and the Dominican Republic. This substance was given to me by a licensed doctor in the Dominican Republic to treat a medical ailment. While I did not realize at the time that I was given a medication that was banned, I obviously now wish that I had been more careful.
“For more than fifteen years, playing professional baseball has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life. I would never do anything to cheat the rules of the game that I love, and after undergoing dozens of drug tests over more than a decade, I have never tested positive for a Performance Enhancing Substance for the simple reason that I have never taken one.
“Today I decided to accept MLB’s suspension. This was the most difficult decision I have ever made in my life, but ultimately the right decision given that I do not dispute that I was given this substance. I apologize to my family, friends, fans, teammates and the Mariners organization. I am extremely grateful for the support I have received during this process, and I look forward to rejoining my teammates later this season.’’
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Cano, 35, is in the fifth year of a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Mariners that he signed before the 2014 season. He’s currently on the disabled list with a broken hand.
Cano’s suspension will cost him nearly $12 million in salary, along with an immeasurable hit to his athletic resume.
An eight-time All-Star, Cano has hit 305 career home runs and has hit the most home runs among American League second basemen in baseball history. He remains a virtual shoo-in to reach 3,000 hits – he has 2,417 with five more years on his contract – and those achievements would have surely made him a lock for the Hall of Fame.
Now, he becomes the most decorated player to be suspended for a PED violation since MLB nailed Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and others in the 2013 Biogenesis investigation – which did not involve a failed drug test, as in Cano’s case.
Cano was tangentially connected to the Biogenesis clinic, when ESPN reported that a spokeswoman for Cano’s charitable foundation, Sonia Cruz, was on the clinic’s client list.
Cruz initially denied any involvement with Biogenesis, but documents obtained by ESPN and MLB connected her to the now-shuttered clinic. “It has nothing to do with me,” Cano insisted at the time.
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