If you thought baseball had rid itself of drug cheats, think again.
Blue Jays first baseman Chris Colabello has been suspended by Major League Baseball for taking a ‘performance-enhancing substance’.
Blue Jays 1B Chris Colabello suspended 80 games without pay after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
— MLB (@MLB) April 22, 2016
Colabello will miss 80 games – approximately half a season – without pay. The 32-year-old was set to make $521,300.
He will also be ineligible for the playoffs, should the Jays qualify.
— Scott MacArthur (@ScottyMacThinks) April 22, 2016
Colabello has released a statement insisting his innocence:
“On March 13, I got one of the scariest and most definitely the least expected phone calls of my entire life. I was informed by the Players Association that a banned substance was found in my urine. I have spent every waking moment since that day trying to find an answer as to why or how? The only thing I know is that I would never compromise the integrity of the game of baseball. I love this game too much! I care too deeply about it. I am saddened more for the impact this will have on my teammates, the organization and the fans of the Toronto Blue Jays. I hope that before anyone passes judgment on me they can take a look at the man that I am, and everything that I have done to get to where I am in my career.”
While the statement from Colabello seems genuinely heartfelt, we have learned in the last 20 years that test results tell the truth more often than public pleas.
“This is obviously an unfortunate situation that we are in with Chris” Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations, and General Manager Ross Atkins said in a statement. “We believe in him as a person and player. We also fully endorse the Major League Baseball drug testing policy.”
“Chris has overcome a great deal in his career and has been a key contributor to this team. While we are certainly disappointed with today’s news, we’re confident he’ll return ready to compete and will have taken the steps needed to ensure that this does not happen again.”
This news spoils what was a great story of perseverance last year from the unheralded Colabello.
Colabello made his MLB debut at age 29 in 2013 with the Minnesota Twins. After two inconspicuous seasons with the Twins, Colabello came out of nowhere last year with the Blue Jays, hitting .321 with 15 home runs in 333 at-bats.
The Blue Jays sit second in the AL East with an 8-9 record and will trek on without Colabello, who was having a dreadful start to 2016. Justin Smoak, the player that Colabello supplanted in last year’s postseason, will get a majority of the starts at first base in his absence.