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Ramon Castro Suspended 105 Games

Jul 02 2005 10:58 AM

No, that's not a typo.

And no, not our Ramon Castro.


Nationals Minor Leaguers suspended

Ramon Castro, an infielder in the Washington Nationals organization, became the first Major League Baseball-affiliated player to be suspended for trafficking as well as using performance-enhancing drugs on Friday. Castro, who plays for the Nationals' Double-A affiliate in Harrisburg, Pa., has been suspended for 105 games under the terms of baseball's Minor League drug policy -- 15 games after testing positive for amphetamine use and 90 for trafficking performance-enhancing drugs.

He will thus effectively miss the rest of this season and about half of next season.

Josh Labandeira, also a Nationals-affiliated infielder now in Triple-A New Orleans, was at the same time suspended for amphetamine use for 15 games after failing his drug test. Labandeira played at Harrisburg with Castro until June 10.

"The Nationals support the Commissioner's Minor League drug program," Washington general manager Jim Bowden said in Chicago on Friday after the Nationals defeated the Cubs. "We are disappointed two of our players caused these violations. We support the system 100 percent. Hopefully, this will be a good learning experience for the players involved and it won't happen again in the future."

Without going into detail, Bowden said he was made aware of the situation last week when the team was in Pittsburgh.

"We immediately turned it over to the Commissioner's office and let them handle it from there," he said. "The players were honest and up front in the entire investigation. Hopefully, the issue will be behind us."

Castro was hitting .283 with nine homers and 30 RBIs in 34 games, while Labandeira was limited to 13 games for Harrisburg because of a strained oblique muscle in his left side. He had batted .400 (8-for-20) in the six games he played since joining New Orleans.

The Minor League testing program is much wider in scope than its Major League counterpart. In the Majors, players on the 40-man roster of each team are tested for steroids and steroid-based drugs only. In the Minors, players are tested for steroids and a variety of drugs, including amphetamines and recreational drugs like marijuana, cocaine and alcohol.

Even under the auspices of the Major League drug policy, a player can be suspended for "participation in the sale or distribution of a prohibited substance."

In the policy established during collective bargaining in 2002, a player involved in those activities can be suspended for from 60 to 90 days and fined up to $100,000 for a first offense, and suspended for two years after a second offense.

Under the most recent Major League program, which was implemented on March 3, a player is automatically suspended for 10 days after a first positive test, 30 days for the second, 60 days for the third, and one year for the fourth. All are without pay.

In the Minor Leagues, a first offense nets a player a 15-game suspension; a second offense is a 30-game suspension; a third offense is a 60-game suspension; a fourth offense is worth one year, and a fifth offense gets a player banned from professional baseball for life.

"The Nationals organization is behind cleaning up drugs in the entire game -- at the Major League level all the way down to the Minor League level," Bowden said. "We think that this strong program that is in place will eradicate it from the game completely."

Jul 02 2005 02:34 PM

90 games for trafficking seems awfully weak...