A bit of history was made Tuesday regarding a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced that Atlanta Braves Minor League player Jordan Schafer has received a 50-game suspension for the use of Human Growth Hormone, a performance-enhancing substance, in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The suspension of Schafer will be effective immediately.
Schafer is currently with Double-A Mississippi of the Southern League.
Based on the wording of the press release from MLB ("for the use of" as opposed to "tested positive for"), Schafer was suspended based upon a non-analytical violation -- he did not test positive for a banned substance, but rather other evidence points to Schafer using hGH. Currently, there is no valid test for hGH.
The top prospect for the Braves had been mired in a 1-11 (.091) hitting slump with the Double-A Mississippi Braves. According to The AP, he batted .312 at Class A last year with 15 homers and 63 RBIs for Rome of the South Atlantic League and Myrtle Beach of the Carolina League.
Schafer represents the fourth player to be suspended this year for violation of a drug policy in baseball. All four players have been in violation of the minor league drug policy. Two players (Scott Vander Weg in the Cardinals system and Robert Hernandez in the Cubs system) tested positive for PEDs. Jacob Rodriguez of the Royals system was suspended on January 10th for failure to test and began his 50 game suspension at the beginning of the season.
Schafer also gets the dubious distinction for being the first player suspended outright for Human Growth Hormone. Jose Guillen and Jay Gibbons were given 15 game suspension on December 6 of last year as part of an Albany, NY investigation into an online PED distribution ring out of Florida. Guillen reportedly purchased nearly $20,000 worth of steroids and Human Growth Hormone from 2003 through 2005 from Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center. Gibbons admitted to using hGH in 2005, which he reportedly purchased through Signature Pharmacy.
Both players were to initially start their suspensions at the beginning of the season, but MLB resended the suspensions for 10 days while management and the players' union worked to further strengthen MLB's Joint Drug Agreement (JDA). Today, (Weds. April 9) would mark the end of that 10 day stay of the suspension.
Since mandatory drug testing was instituted, a total of 175 suspensions have been doled out across baseball for a total of 5,375 games.
The following is a summary of drug violations, based upon The Biz of Baseball's detailed Drug Violations page:
4 minor leaguers
2 - PEDs
1 - Failure to Test
1 - Human Growth Hormone
8 major leaguers
5 - PEDs
3 - Stimulants (Neifi Perez twice)
29 minor leaguers
17 - PEDs
2 - Failure to Test
8 - Drug of Abuse
2 - Unknown (not identifed by MLB in release)
3 major leaguers
3 - PEDs
24 minor leaguers
3 - Drug of Abuse
6 Venezuelan Summer League
6 - PEDs
12 major leaguers
12 - PEDs
90 minor leaguers
90 - PEDs
Source: Major League Baseball. Business of Sports Network research
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