As reported by ESPN, Raul Mondesi Jr, a highly touted prospect in the Kansas City Royals minor league system and the son of former Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Raul Mondesi, was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball on Tuesday for a positive PED test.
The banned substance that Mondesi tested positive for, Clenbuterol, reportedly entered his system through Subrox-C, a Dominican Republic purchased over-the-counter cold medication that he was taking. Because Mondesi was able to provide proof that he was taking the over-the-counter cold-aid, the MLB and the MLBPA agreed to reduce his suspension from 80 games, which is the usual amount for a player’s first positive PED test, to 50 games.
The whole “I didn’t know the drug had something illegal in it” seems to be all too common of an excuse these days for baseball players who test positive for PED’s. In the last several weeks/months, multiple professional athletes across multiple sports have tested positive for illegal performance-enhancing drugs and almost all of them have blamed the positive test results on unknowingly taking an illegal substance, but most notably, baseball. Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Chris Colabello were each handed down 80-game suspensions in the last month after their positive PED tests. Both claimed that they are unaware of how the illegal substances entered their system, but were also unable to provide proof that they took an over-the-counter medication that could have caused the test to come back positive. That is the major difference here between the cases Raul Mondesi Jr. and the cases of Gordon and Colabello. Mondesi becomes the first MLB player to receive a reduced PED suspension due to unintended use.
To many, the reduced suspension of Raul Mondesi Jr. is a failure on the part of Major League Baseball. That is because while Mondesi was able to provide proof that the drug entered his system through a cold medication and he claims it was completely unintentional use, there still isn’t any proof of whether or not Mondesi truly knew what he was putting into his body. Major League Baseball sends out a list of banned substances and drugs that could contain said banned substance before the beginning of every season so that players can avoid situations such as this. It seems a bit unfair to Dee Gordon and Chris Colabello that a minor leaguer can have their suspension reduced simply because they were able to provide a receipt of the prescription that contained the illegal drug. Baseball players and other professional athletes (Lance Armstrong, Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez) have claimed that they either did not take PED’s or they didn’t knowingly take PED’s in the past, and as we’ve all seen, many of those claims ended up turning out to be false.
Mondesi’s mistake is certainly a costly one financially, especially for a minor leaguer making league minimum, but PED suspensions are do not necessarily always result in a death penalty for a professional athlete’s wallet. Baseball is trying to crack down on steroid use, but the simple fact of the matter is that the risk for taking PED’s is so much less than the possible reward of taking them. Take Dee Gordon for example, whether or not his PED use was intentional he was able to sign a massive new five-year, $50 million deal with the Marlins this offseason, cash in, and then he received the suspension following the start of the season. Gordon will miss 80 games and forfeit approximately $1 million of his annual salary, but that is chump change compared to how much Gordon will be making over the next four and a half years. In order for the PED-use to stop, Major League Baseball needs to make the consequences for positive PED tests significantly outweigh the possible rewards. Possible example? Players forfeit an entire year’s salary for a positive test. It may seem harsh, but sadly that is what steroids and baseball may have to come down to if these positive PED tests do not begin to drastically go down in numbers.
The MLB and MLBPA allowed Mondesi a reduced suspension because he was able to provide evidence of the drug that he took. But, shouldn’t he still be held to the same standards as Gordon or Colabello despite the fact that he was able to provide proof and neither Gordon or Colabello were able to? It’s hard to tell. You be the judge, for now.
Photo Credits: Youtube: MLB Prospect Portal (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v83KV3Vl-0w)