MLB lifts Alfonzo's 100-game ban
The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced on Monday that the 100-game suspension of Colorado Rockies catcher Eliezer Alfonzo has been dropped by mutual agreement of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association.
Alfonzo had been given the 100-game ban last September, becoming just the second of now three Major Leaguers to take a “second strike” for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. He appealed and had his ban overturned for the same reason MLB was forced to cancel the 50-game penalty levied against Milwaukee slugger Ryan Braun in February – a dispute over the storage and shipment of his urine sample.
The 33-year-old catcher is eligible to play immediately. He missed the final 15 games of last season, and Colorado has played 33 so far in 2012, unofficially making the overturned suspension a 48-game penalty.
Alfonzo, a career .240 hitter in parts of six seasons with San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, and Colorado, had his contract renewed by the Rockies in the off-season, but was home in Venezuela and was not getting paid while he was on the team’s restricted list during the suspension. He is currently assigned to the Rockies’ Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs.
The catcher had first been suspended for 50 games in April 2008 while with the Giants. Following that ban, he said he never knowingly took PEDs, but did take medicine for bronchitis while home in Venezuela that may have caused the positive test.
This time, he was just as shocked.
"I am surprised by this positive test," Alfonzo said last September in a statement released by the Major League Baseball Players Association. "I learned my lesson in 2008 and have not taken any prohibited substances since then. With the union's help, I intend to fight this suspension and look forward to appearing before the arbitrator in the near future."
It never reached that stage, as the suspension was lifted before an arbitrator could hear the case. Under the major league drug agreement, first offenses are arbitrated before any public announcement, but additional cases are litigated after a suspension is announced.
Current Oakland slugger Manny Ramirez and Giants relief pitcher Guillermo Mota are the only other Major Leaguers to earn 100-game suspensions for positive drug tests. Ramirez, then with the Rays, retired last April in the face of his second positive test, but has since un-retired after sitting out most of 2011 and is now serving a 50-game penalty before he can play for Oakland; Mota, meanwhile, was given his second ban by MLB last week after testing positive for the banned substance clenbuterol.
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