MLB suspends Robinson Cano 80 games for violating drug policy

Seattle Mariners second baseman and eight-time all-star Robinson Cano has been suspended 80 games after testing positive for a banned substance.

Mariners 2nd baseman on disabled list with broken right hand

Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, an eight-time all-star, has been suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball for performance-enhancing drug use. (Tony Dejak/Associated Press)

Seattle Mariners all-star second baseman Robinson Cano has been suspended 80 games for violating baseball's joint drug agreement.

The league announced Cano's suspension Tuesday in a stunning development for the stalwart in the middle of the Mariners lineup and a club expected to contend for a post-season spot in the American League.

Cano tested positive for Furosemide, a diuretic. In a statement released through the players' association, Cano says, "This substance was given to me by a licensed doctor in the Dominican Republic to treat a medical ailment." He said he didn't realize it was banned.

"For more than fifteen years, playing professional baseball has been the greatest honour and privilege of my life," Cano said in a statement. "I would never do anything to cheat the rules of the game that I love, and after undergoing dozens of drug tests over more than a decade, I have never tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance for the simple reason that I have never taken one.

"Today I decided to accept MLB's suspension. This was the most difficult decision I have ever made in my life, but ultimately the right decision given that I do not dispute that I was given this substance. I apologize to my family, friends, fans, teammates and the Mariners organization."

Cano's positive resulted from an off-season test, a person familiar with the process said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement specifies such details remain confidential.

Because the substance involved was a diuretic, the next step was for Thomas Martin, the independent program administrator hired by the MLB and the players' association, to determine whether the use of Furosemide was an attempt to "to substitute, dilute, mask or adulterate a specimen or in any other manner alter a test," according to the joint drug program.

After Martin made that determination, the union filed a grievance last month. The case was scheduled to be heard starting Tuesday in Seattle before arbitrator Mark Irvings, but the union informed MLB last Friday that Cano wanted to drop the grievance and reach a settlement, the person said. MLB senior vice-president Patrick Houlian and union deputy general counsel Matt Nussbaum then worked to reach the agreement to accept the discipline.

2018 MLB suspensions

  • May 15 — Robinson Cano, 2B, Seattle, 80 games, furosemide
  • March 18 — Jorge Polanco, SS, Minnesota, 80 games, stanozolol
  • March 16 — x-Thomas PannoneLHP, Toronto, 80 games, dehydrochlormethyltestosterone
  • March 10 — x-Jorge Bonifacio, OF, Kansas City, 80 games, boldenone
  • Feb. 7 — x-Raudy Read, C, Washington, 80 games, boldenone
  • Jan. 27 — Nik TurleyLHP, Pittsburgh, 80 games, ipamorelin
  • Jan. 23 — x-Dean DeetzRHP, Houston, 80 games, dehydrochlormethyltestosterone​
    x-tested positive while on 40-man roster

It's the first major strike in a career that has Hall of Fame potential. Cano was trending toward becoming one of the few current players with a chance to reach 3,000 hits in his career and has been a consummate defensive standout. Cano is an eight-time all-star but now must deal with the stigma of a suspension.

"Robinson made a mistake. He has explained to us what happened, accepted the punishment and has apologized to the fans, the organization and his teammates. We will support Robinson as he works through this challenge," the Mariners said in a statement.

The timing of the suspension comes on the heels of Cano suffering the first significant injury of his tenure in Seattle. Cano landed on the disabled list Monday after breaking a bone in his right hand after getting hit by a pitch during Sunday's game in Detroit. He was scheduled to meet with a hand specialist in Philadelphia early Tuesday.

Cano can serve his suspension while on the DL but is now ineligible for the post-season should the Mariners get there and end the longest playoff drought in the four major professional sports. He will also lose his salary during the suspension, expected to be around $11 million.

Even if the injury is on the shorter end of the recovery period, Cano's suspension will last until the middle of August. Since 2007, Cano has played at least 150 games each season.

This season, Cano was hitting .287 in 39 games with four home runs and 23 runs batted in. He's appeared healthier and quicker than the past few seasons when he's played through leg injuries that at times limited his range.


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