Major League Baseball is a breeding ground for steroid and other performance enhancing drug (PED) use. Players in The Bigs hit a very small ball a very long distance and the sport requires pinpoint accuracy along with split second motor mechanics and power.
As players age and others look to gain an advantage over their fellow baseball players some turn to PEDs to illegally and unethically improve their game.
While there are dozens of MLB players who have faced suspensions over the years our list focuses on players who have been suspended for 50 or more games.
Yusaku Irki – New York Mets – 50 Games – 2006
In 2006 Yusaku Irki was suspended for 50 games after he violated Major League Baseball’s policy against performance-enhancing drug use.
Irki was caught using a banned substance during the Mets’ spring training camp.
Jason Grimsley – Arizona Diamondbacks – 50 Games – 2006
Jason Grimsley was suspended for 50 games after federal agents raided his home. Agents were taking part in an investigation involving several MLB players suspected of taking PEDs.
Upon suspending Grimsley baseball commissioner Bud Selig said he violated baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Grimsley was accused of using human growth hormone.
Guillermo Mota – New York Mets – 50 Games – 2006 / San Francisco Giants – 100 Games – 2012
A second PED violation offense led Guillermo Moto to a 100 game suspension in 2012. He became only the third major league baseball player to be caught with two positive drug tests.
The 38-year-old right-hander tested positive for Clenbuterol.
Juan Salas – Tampa Bay Devil Rays – 50 Games 2007
Salas was the first player to flunk the MLBs new drug testing. Not a record he will want to remember later in life.
He was listed as using a “performance-enhancing substance.”
Dan Serafini – Colorado Rockies – 50 Games – 2007
This Colorado Rockies pitcher was suspended for 50 games after he tested positive under Major League Baseball’s testing program.
Serafini would go on to blame the failed drug test on a doctor in Japan.
Eventually his career fell apart after suffering various injuries during regular play.
Eliezer Alfonzo – San Francisco Giants – 50 Games – 2008 / Colorado Rockies – 48 Games – 2011
Eliezer Alfonzo has been suspended and appealed those suspensions on several occasions. The Player’s union agreed to drop his 100-game suspension after a procedural error was made.
Despite his successful appeals Alfonzo missed 48 games including 15 end of season games and 33 start of season matches.
He only avoided more suspension time because his urine was improperly handed during testing.
J.C. Romero – Philadelphia Phillies – 50 Games 2009
Romero blamed his positive drug test on a supplement he bought at a GNC store in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He originally said the Major League Baseball Players Association had told players the supplement was acceptable
According to Romero: “I still cannot see where I did something wrong. There is nothing that should take away from the rings of my teammates. I didn’t cheat. I tried to follow the rules.”
Manny Ramirez – Los Angeles Dodgers – 50 Games – 2009 / 100 Games – 2011
Nobody took Ramirez’s suspension harder than Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti who told reporters:
“It’s a dark day for baseball and certainly for this organization. This organization will never condone anything that isn’t clean.”
Ramirez claimed that he was prescribed a banned substance accidentally by his doctor.
MLB testing eventually revealed that testosterone was found in Ramirez’s body.
Several sources also revealed that Manny Ramirez was using the female fertility drug human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG.
Edinson Volquez – Cincinnati Reds – 50 Games – 2010
The 26-year-old Volquez was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for a male fertility drug. While not a steroid the drug is banned by baseball because it helps increase levels of testosterone in the body.
Volquez admitted to using the drug, claiming that he used prescription medications last year in an attempt to start a family with his wife.
Slugger Manny Ramirez used a similar excuse when he failed an MLB drug test.
Freddy Galvis – Philadelphia Phillies – 50 Games 2012
Philadelphia Phillies rookie infielder Freddy Galvis was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball after he tested positive for a banned substance.
In defending himself Galvis said: “A trace amount of a banned substance — 80 parts in a trillion — was detected in my urine sample. I am extremely disappointed in what has transpired. I cannot understand how even this tiny particle of a banned substance got into my body.”
“I have not and never would knowingly use anything illegal to enhance my performance. I have always tried to follow the team’s strength and conditioning methods, listen to the trainers, work out hard and eat right. Unfortunately, the rules are the rules and I will be suspended.”
Marlon Byrd – Free Agent – 50 Games – 2012
Byrd tested positive for performance enhancing drugs while acting as a free agent in for Major League Baseball.
Byrd tested positive for Tamoxifen. That drug is the medicine that blocks the effects of the estrogen hormone in the body. It is used to treat breast cancer in women or men and is used by steroid users to prevent the growth of breast tissues in men and to stop post-cycle crashes.
After his suspension was announced Byrd issued the following statement:
“I made an inexcusable mistake… Several years ago, I had surgery for a condition that was private and unrelated to baseball. Last winter, I suffered a recurrence of that condition and I was provided with a medication that resulted in my positive test. Although that medication is on the banned list, I absolutely did not use it for performance-enhancement reasons. I am mortified by my carelessness and I apologize to everyone who loves this game as I do. I will serve my suspension, continue to work hard and hope that I am given an opportunity to help a club win later this season.”
Melky Cabrera – San Francisco Giants – 50 Games – 2012
He was the All-Star Game MVP and then he was suspended after testing positive for testosterone.
While the drug he used was not revealed officials for Major League Baseball said he tested positive for the banned performance-enhancing substance in violation of the drug agreement between owners and the players’ association.
In a statement to fans Cabrera said:
“My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used. I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organization and to the fans for letting them down.”
Bartolo Colon – Oakland Athletics – 50 Games – 2012
The A’s former Cy Young winner was suspended for 50 games after he tested positive for testosterone.
In a very short statement Colon admitted to PED use:
“I apologize to the fans, to my teammates and to the Oakland A’s. I accept responsibility for my actions.”
Yasmani Grandal – San Diego Padres – 50 Games – 2012
San Diego Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal was suspended for use of an unnamed banned substance. Much like Bartolo Colon he also released a simple statement of guilty along with a quick apology to his teammates and fans:
“I apologize to the fans, my teammates, and to the San Diego Padres. was disappointed to learn of my positive test and under the Joint Drug Program I am responsible for what I put into my body.”
Nelson Cruz – Texas Rangers – 50 Games – 2013
Nelson Cruz was found guilty of taking “troches,” a synthetic testosteronelozenge.
After being suspended the Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz issued a statement in which he stated:
“I want to apologize to the fans, the Texas Rangers organization and all of Major League Baseball for the mistake I made. I apologize to my family. There have been a lot of people and fans behind me. It has been a really tough few weeks, but I have good friends and a good family. They give me the support I need.”
“Hopefully, the team will go to the playoffs and… give me a chance to help out.”
Jhonny Peralta – Detroit Tigers – 50 Games – 2013
Peralta was yet another Biogenesis scandal victim.
Jhonny agreed to the 50-game suspension and never tested positive to performance enhancing drugs. Peralta agreed to the 50-game suspension for fear of further MLB retribution.
Following the announcement of his suspension Peralta proclaimed:
“I have never used performance-enhancing drugs. Period. Anybody who says otherwise is lying.”
Everth Cabrera – San Diego Padres – 50 Games – 2013
Cabrera admitted to taking a banned substance either before or during Spring Training 2012.
Following his admission of guilty he issued the following statement:
“I made a mistake… In 2012, when I made the decision to take this, my shoulder wasn’t even at 50 percent, and I wanted to be healthy for the spring.”
Cabrera suffered a shoulder injury while playing in Triple-A during the 2011 season.
He has never revealed which substance he took.
Francisco Cervelli – New York yankees – 50 Games – 2013
Cerveli came clean pretty quickly about taking some type of drug:
“I purchased supplements that I am certain were not prohibited by Major League Baseball.”
Eight days eight days later he claimed to have left Biogenesis empty-handed:
“I talked to somebody who recommended (Biogenesis). I went there, I asked questions and that’s it. I walked away with nothing in my hand. Right now, I realize that maybe it was a mistake to go there, but it already happened, so what can I do?”
Antonio Bastardo – Philadelphia Phillies – 50 Games – 2013
Antonio Bastardo was suspended 50 games for violations related to the Biogenesis investigation.
The exact nature of what he took is still not known. Bastardo fell in line with other Biogenesis suspects by pleading guilty and agreeing to the 50 game suspension period.
Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers – 65 Games – 2013
Ryan Braun was suspended for 65 games without pay, a move that effectively ended his 2013 season.
Braun said at the time of the PED suspension that he would not appeal the leagues decision which arrived by way of “violations of the Basic Agreement and its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.”
Braun said in his public statement:
“As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it… has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organization.”
Braun then added:
“I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in Milwaukee and around the country. Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed — all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”
Neifi Perez – Detroit Tigers – 80 Games – 2007
Tigers infielder Neifi Perez was suspended for 80 games after he tested positive for a third time for a banned stimulant.
Perez became the only player to be suspended by baseball for stimulants since they were banned before the 2006 season.
He was just about to begin serving time for his second violation when the new charged were raised.
Neifi Perez was sent to counseling after his first suspension was handed down.
Miguel Tejada – Kansas City Royals – 105 Games – 2013
Kansas City Royals infielder Miguel Tejada was suspended for 105 games for his continual use of amphetamines. Tejada testied positive twice in 2013.
Following the leagues rather large 105 game suspension Tejada released the following statement:
“I apologize to my teammates, the Royals organization and to the Kansas City fans. I have a medical condition that requires medication to treat. I took that medication while re-applying for a Therapeutic Use Exemption. Under the requirements of the Joint Drug Program, I made a mistake in doing so.”
Alex Rodriguez – New York Yankees – 211 Games – 2013
While other Biogenesis visiting players agreed to a 50-game suspension Alex Rodriguez refused to give into MLB demands. To punish his refusal to settle the league issued a 211-game suspension for A-Rod.
Alex is now going before an arbitrator in an attempt to overturn the league decision.
A-Rod has never admitted any guilt and reports have suggested that he has asked associates to steal his medical files from the now bankrupt anti-aging clinic in Florida.
Could A-Rod have been the only MLB player really visit Biogenesis over aging concerns? We highly doubt it.
23 MLB players have received 50+ game suspensions for performance enhancing drug (PED) use and that number will continue to grow as the MLB continues to crack down on offenders. With federal agencies increasing their investigations a 211-game suspension may not be the biggest suspension handed down for very long.