Cincinnati Reds pitcher, Edinson Volquez, tested positive for a performance enhancing drug and has been suspended 50 games for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Volquez, recovering from Tommy John Surgery, will serve his entire suspension while on the disabled list.
Volquez claims his positive test was the result of taking a fertility drug prescribed to him in his native Dominican Republic. According to New York Times reporter, Michael Schmidt, that drug was clomiphene. While fertility drugs such as clomiphene and Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) have legitimate uses, they are banned by MLB because they boost testosterone levels. Athletes are known to use such drugs to help restart their testosterone production after cycles of steroids.
"Prior to the conclusion of last season, my wife and I sought medical advice in Cincinnati with the hope of starting a family… As part of my consultation with the physician, I received certain prescribed medications to treat my condition. As a follow up to our original consultation, my wife and I visited another physician in our home city in the Dominican Republic this past off-season. This physician also gave me certain prescribed medications as part of my treatment. Unfortunately, I now know that the medication the physician in the Dominican gave me is one that is often used to treat my condition, but is also a banned substance under Major League Baseball's drug policy. As a result, I tested positive when I reported to Spring Training."
It’s a similar situation to that of Manny Ramirez, who was suspended in May 2009 for non-analytical evidence that he used HCG, another fertility drug.
Here’s a snippet of Ramirez’s statement after he was suspended.
"Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me. Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy."
The most noteworthy part of this story is that Volquez will not miss any games due to the long recovery time from his surgery. This appears to be the first time a player has been suspended while on the disabled list and subsequently not miss any additional games, leading some to describe it as a loop-hole.
The last player to test positive under the Major League policy was San Francisco Giants prospect, Kelvin Pichardo, in March 2009.