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Canó Suspended for PED violation

On Sunday, Robinson Canó was hit by a pitch and broke his right hand. Today he was handed down an 80-game suspension from Major League Baseball for violating policy on performance-enhancing drug use. He is not having a good week.

Canó failed a drug test during the offseason, testing positive for furosemide. Not itself a PED, furosemide is a diuretic that is banned due to its use as a masking agent for actual PEDs. The Joint Drug Agreement between MLB and the players' union states that a positive test for such a diuretic does not in and of itself merit suspension, but does mandate a retest and investigation. MLB officials determined that Canó had used the furosemide to cover up use of another (not publicly identified) substance.

Unbeknownst to the public at large, the suspension was handed down before the season, but Canó had appealed. His appeal hearing had been scheduled for today (5/15), but after sustaing the injury to his hand he dropped the appeal and began serving the suspension immediately.

In a statement released on Twitter and through the players' union, Canó claims he had been given the furosemide to treat "a medical ailment" by a doctor in the Dominican Republic and has apologized to the Mariners and his fans.

It's worth noting, though, that his apology did not admit any wrongdoing. Canó said he did not realize the drug he was given had been banned and denies ever having taken performance-enhancing drugs of any kind, though he did not dispute taking the furosemide. This non-apology apology has elicited a variety of reactions among fans and media types, most of them disbelieving or dismissive of Canó's explanation. Given the JDA policy of investigating intent in cases of diuretic use and the fact that the suspension was kept quiet while under appeal, Canó's defenders are few.

The reasons for Canó's prolonged absence aside, the practical matter facing the Mariners now is how to replace him in the lineup until the middle of August. GM Jerry Dipoto has said that current center fielder Dee Gordon will start taking infield practice and may see time in games at his old position of second base, but there is a school of thought that prefers keeping Gordon in center rather than shuffling him back and forth (as he would presumably be expected to go back to center upon Canó's return) just as he's learning the ropes in his new position. One idea bandied about is that the M's should offer a contract to free agent Brandon Phillips, a former all-star at the position with lengthy Major League experience. Phillips would presumably come relatively cheap and be a low-risk acquisition, though he is 36 and as he has been unsigned all spring would need time to work up to game-readiness.

Should the Mariners maintain contention and reach the playoffs this year, Canó would be ineligible for post-season play under the terms of his PED suspension.

Canó and PEDs

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