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Robinson Cano suspended 80 games by MLB for performance-enhancing drug violation

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SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale discusses the Nationals’ hot streak, if they can compete with the Yankees, and how much trouble the Dodgers are in. USA TODAY Sports

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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.

Recent notable suspensions in MLB

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2018: Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano was suspended

2018: Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano was suspended 80 games for violations of MLB’s drug policy.  Joe Camporeale, USA TODAY Sports
2018: Royals outfielder Jorge Bonifacio was suspended

2018: Royals outfielder Jorge Bonifacio was suspended 80 games for violations of MLB’s drug policy.  Orlando Ramirez, USA TODAY Sports
2018: Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco was suspended 80

2018: Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco was suspended 80 games for violations of MLB’s drug policy.  Butch Dill, USA TODAY Sports
2017: Pirates outfielder Starling Marte was suspended

2017: Pirates outfielder Starling Marte was suspended 80 games for violations of MLB’s drug policy.  Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports
2017: Mets closer Jeurys Familia received a 15-game

2017: Mets closer Jeurys Familia received a 15-game suspension for a domestic violence incident.  Adam Hunger, USA TODAY Sports
2016: Mariners catcher Steven Clevenger was suspended

2016: Mariners catcher Steven Clevenger was suspended 10 games after his set of tweets imploring that protestors in Charlotte should be “locked behind bars like animals.”  Otto Greule Jr, Getty Images
2016: Indians outfielder Marlon Byrd was suspended

2016: Indians outfielder Marlon Byrd was suspended 162 games for violations of MLB’s drug policy a second time.  Aaron Doster, USA TODAY Sports
2016: Braves outfielder Hector Olivera received a 82-game

2016: Braves outfielder Hector Olivera received a 82-game suspension for domestic violence incident.  Jerome Miron, USA TODAY Sports
2016: Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes received a 51-game

2016: Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes received a 51-game suspension for domestic violence incident.  Nick Wass, AP
2016: Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon was suspended

2016: Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon was suspended 80 games for violations of MLB’s drug policy.  Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports
2016: Blue Jays first baseman Chris Colabello was suspended

2016: Blue Jays first baseman Chris Colabello was suspended 80 games for violations of MLB’s drug policy.  Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports
2016: Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman received a 30-game

2016: Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman received a 30-game suspension for a domestic violence incident.  Butch Dill, USA TODAY Sports
2016: Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia received a lifetime

2016: Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia received a lifetime suspension for a third positive steroid test.  Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports
2015: Twins pitcher Ervin Santana was suspended 80

2015: Twins pitcher Ervin Santana was suspended 80 games for violations of MLB’s drug policy.  Tony Gutierrez, AP
2013: Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was suspended

2013: Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was suspended 162 games for his link with Biogenesis anti-aging clinic and performance-enhancing substances.  Kathy Willens, AP
2013: Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was suspended 65

2013: Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was suspended 65 games for violations of MLB’s drug policy.  Jacquelyn Martin, AP
2012: Giants reliever Guillermo Mota was suspended

2012: Giants reliever Guillermo Mota was suspended 100 games for a second violation of MLB’s drug policy.  Kelley L Cox, USA TODAY Sports
2011: Manny Ramirez was suspended 100 games for a second

2011: Manny Ramirez was suspended 100 games for a second violation of MLB’s drug policy. Instead, he voluntarily retired. Upon reinstatement, Ramirez served 50 games once he signed a contract.  Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports
2007: Tigers infielder Neifi Perez was suspended 80

2007: Tigers infielder Neifi Perez was suspended 80 games for a third positive steroid test.  Bob Jordan, AP
2005: Orioles slugger Rafael Palmeiro was suspended

2005: Orioles slugger Rafael Palmeiro was suspended 10 days for violations of MLB’s drug policy.  Jed Jacobsohn, Getty Images
1993: Reds owner Marge Schott was removed from day-to-day

1993: Reds owner Marge Schott was removed from day-to-day operations of the club for the entire 1993 season due to a number of racially offensive remarks. She was later suspended for similar behavior from 1996 through 1998.  David Kohl, AP
1992: Relief pitcher Steve Howe was permanently suspended

1992: Relief pitcher Steve Howe was permanently suspended by MLB for drug use. That followed a one-year ban which cost him the 1984 season. He was later reinstated and pitched again in 1994.  Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports
1990: Yankees owner George Steinbrenner consented to

1990: Yankees owner George Steinbrenner consented to a lifetime “agreement” with MLB as a result of his attempts to discredit Dave Winfield. He was reinstated in 1993.  Chris O’Meara, AP
1989: Pete Rose, baseball's all-time hits leader, was

1989: Pete Rose, baseball’s all-time hits leader, was permanently banned from MLB as a result of his gambling on baseball.  Al Behrman, AP

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