Righty Jose Valverde has been suspended for eighty games, the league announced today. He was punished for testing positive for stanozolol, a banned performance-enhancing substance.
Valverde played most recently at the Triple-A level in the Nationals organization, throwing 26 1/3 innings of 2.39 ERA ball. He struck out 7.2 and walked 1.0 batters per nine in that span, but ultimately exercised an opt-out clause and took his release. Valverde spent the spring with the Padres but elected free agency when he wasn’t added to the active roster to start the season.
Once the Tigers’ closer, Valverde lost the gig during a rough 2013 season. He opened 2014 with the Mets, but was again cut loose after struggling. All told, Valverde has only thrown forty innings, putting up a 5.63 ERA, since the end of the 2012 campaign.
It already seemed that the 12-year big league veteran could be near the end of the line, particularly given that he had yet to sign since being released nearly a month ago. Certainly, the suspension will make it much more difficult for him to find another opportunity.
When you’re career has fallen as far as Valverde, you’ll do bad things to try to get back to that level of greatness. I’m not approving his actions, but I understand why he would do it.
On a different note, I didn’t even know Papa Grande was still pitching.
I didn’t know players got tested when they weren’t even under contract with an MLB/MiLB team.
Apparently, neither did Jose.
Could be a sample from earlier in the year that they just tested. Could also be that this has been known for months and the league is just now getting around to formally suspending him.
The turnaround time from testing isn’t within days. When he actually took the test it was prior to his release.
Testing is done on all players on each club’s 40 man roster and all free agents. When he opted out he became a free agent but it doesn’t necessarily mean he was recently tested. All testing is done by the World Anti-Doping Agency certified laboratory known as Laboratoire de Controle du Dopage (AKA The Montréal Laboratory). Initially urine samples are tested for PED’s using more traditional methods aimed at detecting the substances when used recently. In order to get around that players will often micro-dose and that used to be somewhat effective. The changes to the last JDA allows for previous urine samples to be randomly tested using IRMS (isotope ratio mass spectrometry). IMRS can detect minute traces of drugs like stanozolol months after it was used as well as the slightest fluctuation in a players testosterone/epitestosterone ratio . To give you an example in 2011 the WADA laboratory in Cologne Germany had 18 positive tests for stanozolol and 17 positives in 2012. Once they started using IMRS for long-term detection the number increased to 184 in 2013. It is now much harder for players to get away with juicing.
Olympic committee recently retroactively busted some athletes now that they have finer testing for previously unknown substances. I wonder if this ability will trickle down to MLB
MLB now uses the same tests as the WADA/Olympics. They had been asking for it for many years but the MLBPA refused until Biogenesis embarrassed everyone and showed how flawed testing was. I know that now, under the revised JDA (and it will be updated again after the season), the Montreal Lab can and does randomly test any sample on file. I know that penalties are retroactive, so if a player was caught in 2009 and served 50 games under the old JDA and is caught now he gets a full season. As far as testing samples from say, 2013….I am really not sure. I will have to read the JDA again but I really don’t remember that being addressed. I know that anything before 2006 cannot be punished. I’ll try and find out more later tonight or tomorrow.
Thank you very much for that. Very informative.
I guess we know what made Papa so Grande
I know statistics on this would be impossible to find but I wonder how many players get away with taking steroids now. The test is unlikely to be perfect so they’re has to be a handful of players that are gambling to see if they can beat the odds, especially players like Valverde who are already at the end of their career and have nothing really to lose.
An IRMS is performed on at least one sample per player per season at the absolute minimum. Isotope ratio mass spectrometry testing makes it extremely difficult for players to cheat now. On top of that MLB now uses “biological passports” (although they actually use a different term). A biological passport establishes a baseline for a players testosterone/epitestosterone ratio. Prior to the changes in the JDA this year a failed test was only triggered if the T:E ratio exceeded 4:1. By using well-timed doses, micro doses and hGH (which has been proven to help mask true T:E ratios) players were able to cheat much more easily. Now the slightest abnormal fluctuation in a T:E ratio triggers a failed test.
Is there anything else that can trigger the ‘abnormal fluctuation’?
Not so much, but I really should clarify. The fluctuation itself does not result in the fail…. It’s the follow-up isotope ratio mass spectrometry test that pinpoints the bio-identical testosterone as well as the “markers” for what ever other PED was used. Under the old testing a player was allowed to have a 4 to 1 T to E ratio and that was just too easy for them to beat. There was too much leeway and blood tests for hGH were not approved by the MLBPA until the 2013 season ( if my memory serves) and even then they were limited. Studies in Australia in or around 2010-2011 showed that hGH altered/lowered the T reading.
Tony Bosch was a lot of things but one thing he wasn’t was stupid when it came to testing. He knew that there were flaws in the old system and the protocols he established exploited the weaknesses. He had his clients use precisely timed doses, bio-identical testosterone lozenges, hGH, IGF-1 (insulin growth factor 1) and others all to circumvent the previous testing. As long as they stayed on the proper regime they would not be caught as the blood tests were only done in spring training and the protocols kept the T:E ratio in line. It is now much, much harder to beat the system ( although I personally believe there are not enough blood tests done) and even harder still if you have a failed test already. Previously any player with a failed test only faced additional testing ( I believe it was three additional urine tests) for the next 12 months. Now it is 6 additional and unannounced urine tests as well as three unannounced blood tests every year that they remain on a 40 man roster. These tests are in addition to all regular testing that every player must go through during the season and after.
I should also mention that if a player refuses or fails to take a test without good cause ( in season or off-season) it is considered a failed test. If a player is tested and a diuretic or masking agent is discovered they are immediately retested and if either is found, that too is a failed test.
So, what I gather is that MLB tests players for a baseline testosterone level that’s set at the individual players chemistry? That would make common sense. I suppose there’s a normal range for all men, but individual deviation. One time I was tested and my testosterone levels were 4x normal. I’d never done any form of ped, outside of Creatine which was legal and remains so. The only reason I found out was due to reproductive testing.
Exactly right my good man. The “normal” T:E ratio is 1:1 although the word normal is a bit subjective because athletes and others can have a ratio of 4:1 without doping. That is why the WADA set 4:1 as a guideline. All anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) artificially increase bio-identical testosterone levels as does the use of bio-identical testosterone lozenges and the like. Bio-identical testosterone clears the system within eight days and if taken properly a person can keep their T:E ratio inline. That is why the old system of simply checking the ratios was so flawed. Now, a baseline is established using three prior samples and if a new test falls outside of baseline then an IRMS is done. Whereas the bio-identical testosterone can clear the system quickly an IRMS can detect the markers of bio-identical testosterone for months and months after use.
As far as our conversation above regarding how long the samples are maintained and when they can be tested… That exact information is not in the JDA. I would have to presume that it is documented in the MLB/MLBPA/Montréal Lab agreed-upon protocols and as far as I can tell that information is not available online, unlike the JDA.
Thank you for all this. I learned a lot from this little discussion. It seems to me that for a player, risking taking peds has got to be like smuggling drugs through the airport or something. You might get away with it, but they’ve got to be nervous and somewhat on edge the whole time, knowing they could be caught, and the consequences are pretty serious. Having said that, Bartolo Colon has already been caught what, three times? Four times? And he’s still around.