Sanchez accepts steroid suspension
Rays' outfielder pleads ignorance, accepts verdict
Suspended Devil Rays outfielder Alex Sanchez had decided not to appeal his 10-day suspension for violating Major League Baseball's steroid policy."First and foremost, it must be made clear that I do not condone the use of steroids, and I want to take this opportunity to warn everyone -- especially children -- of their danger," said Sanchez in a statement he released through the Devil Rays. "I also would like to thank the Devil Rays' organization, its fans, and the general public for the support they have given me over the past few days. "I recently failed a Major League Baseball drug screening because I used an over-the-counter supplement that I purchased before the laws banning certain substances changed on January 15th. If I am guilty, I am guilty of not taking the initiative to learn more about the contents of what I was taking. Once my agent informed me that I had tested positive, I then started finding out what was in my supplements. Then, and only then, did I find out about the particular ingredients of this supplement." The status of several substances changed from over the counter to prescription drugs as of Jan. 15 under federal legislation and were added to baseball's list of banned substances. The news that Sanchez had tested positive came Sunday, after the team conducted a workout prior to Monday's opener against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field. After the announcement, Sanchez said he would fight the suspension because he said, "I've never taken steroids or anything like them. ... I never take steroids because I don't need them." Michael Weiner, general counsel of the Major League Baseball Players Association, issued the following statement: "The Basic Agreement reserves to the Player the decision whether to appeal disciplinary action. Alex Sanchez, exercising that personal right, has elected not to appeal the Commissioner's 10-day suspension. As Alex has explained, he did not knowingly take any banned substance. We respect Alex's decision to forego an appeal and he has our full support." Sanchez said he has used a myriad of protein shakes and other types of nutritional supplements, but, he added, all of the substances he used were over the counter. Suspensions for violating baseball's rules on performance-enhancing substances include no pay; Sanchez will lose $32,787 of his $600,000 salary. His suspension began April 4, which means he can return to the Devil Rays on April 14 when the team plays the Orioles at Tropicana Field. Sanchez was scheduled to be the team's everyday center fielder, which facilitated a move of Carl Crawford back to his preferred position in left field. Three games into the season the Devil Rays have used Crawford, Joey Gathright and Chris Singleton in center field. During his suspension, Sanchez has been working out at the Devil Rays' Minor-League facility. "At this point, I will serve the remainder of my suspension and then return to the field where I will work as hard as I can to help the Devil Rays' organization enjoy a successful season," Sanchez said.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.