A "handful" of suspensions for PED use could be on the way in Major League Baseball, thanks to what is likely improvement in the testing for Turinabol. The names of the players have not been released -- privacy is important here, and MLB doesn't release names until the appeals process is over and the player is suspended for sure -- but ESPN's Outside the Lines has been told that Baseball is processing a number of cases involving the PED, which was famous among East German athletes in the 70s.
The Blue Jays' Chris Collabello was suspended for Turinabol use last month, as was the Phillies' Daniel Stumpf, and the two were caught during spring training -- same as our mystery culprit. Why the sudden interest in an old performance enhancer? It might not be new -- just the ability to discover the use of it is.
Testing for Turinabol took a major leap forward two years ago, and as anti-doping labs have adopted the technology, users apparently didn't get the word. Any drug someone takes breaks down into metabolites, a residue of the drug that can stay in the system long after the original or parent drug has cleared. Turinabol, like most oral steroids, breaks down relatively quickly in the body and used to be undetectable after a week, and sometimes even less time. But two years ago, researchers found that by increasing the sensitivity of their testing equipment, they could detect some metabolites that stayed in the body much longer.
So, hypothetically, Colabello, Stumpf, and Mystery Player all believed they were in the clear by the time their spring testing came about -- spring testing that everyone knows is going to happen -- but the advancements in testing meant that they had a surprise coming to them. The other option is that players are taking a supplement that includes Turinabol and has recently been placed on the USADA's "high risk" list, but as T.J. Quinn writes, that's much more speculative.
It's also worth remembering that we shouldn't automatically demonize any of these players, by the way, and not just because the mystery aspect means one of those unnamed could be in the Red Sox organization: I can pretend all I want I wouldn't cheat in order to make it to the majors where my financial future could be secured (or at least, a pension could be secured), but who knows how I'd act if I were in the same place as Colabello or Stumpf or whoever our mystery player is.
You can play the scenario for yourself in your own head a million times, and you still won't know how you'd act, either. Remember, the writers and sports personalities who are most furious about PED use tend to be the ones who are playing an outrageous character so they can get their own zero-filled checks -- as Grant Brisbee recently wrote after Dee Gordon's suspension, everything is a lie. It's worth remembering the agendas of everyone involved in these messes.