Justin Verlander is all too familiar with the routine that follows a player testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
The Astros ace, who’s emerged as a vocal opponent of MLB cheaters over the years, sarcastically predicted what Robinson Cano would do next after it was announced on Tuesday the Mariners star was being suspended 80 games for violating baseball’s joint drug agreement. It was Cano’s first positive test, for a diuretic called Furosemide that is viewed as a masking agent, and his suspension begins immediately.
“Aaaand excuse coming in 3….. 2…… 1……,” Verlander wrote on Twitter soon after the announcement.
Sure enough, Cano obliged with a personal statement in which he expressed regret at not being “more careful” with a drug he did not know MLB considered as part of a scheme to hide the use of PEDs, which Cano denied ingesting directly.
“This substance was given to me by a licensed doctor in the Dominican Republic to treat a medical ailment,” Cano said. “While I did not realize at the time that I was given a medication that was banned, I obviously now wish that I had been more careful.
“I would never do anything to cheat the rules of the game that I love,” he added, “and after undergoing dozens of drug tests for more than a decade, I have never tested positive for a Performance Enhancing Substance for the simple reason that I have never taken one.”
Verlander, who entered the big leagues the same year as Cano (2005) and has faced him regularly in the American League since, has taken particular offense in the past to players being allowed to stay on the field while MLB determines the consequences for their positive tests. The 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner voiced his frustration with the practice after the Marlins’ Dee Gordon played against Verlander’s former team, the Tigers, in the opening series of the 2016 season after the league was made aware of his test results. Gordon was ultimately handed an 80-game suspension on April 29.
“I think if a guy has tested positive, they shouldn’t be on the field affecting the outcome of baseball games, when there is so much at stake,” Verlander told ESPN at the time. “We’re fighting and clawing for 162 games. You’d hate to see something happen here at the very end, you lose by a game or something, and you say ‘What if?’ You know, ‘What if that guy hadn’t been on the field?’ ”
Verlander said he has less of a problem with the quality of the testing, which he called “as good as it gets,” and more with the quantity. He’s pushed for more tests and harsher penalties, all while maintaining he personally has nothing to hide.
“I don’t worry about it. Test me every day,” Verlander said in 2016. “I don’t care. I’ve been that way my whole career.”
While it is unknown when exactly Cano’s test occurred, the former Yankees second baseman played in 39 games for the Mariners this season, hitting .287 with 23 RBIs, before going down with a broken bone in his hand after being hit by a pitch over the weekend.
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