Dumb, dumber: Past MLB drug testing, players using ancient ‘roid

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The Blue Jays’ Chris Colabello has been suspended 80 games without pay after testing positive for the same anabolic steroid that caused Philadelphia pitcher Daniel Stumpf to be disciplined.
(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara File)

When the Blue Jays’ Chris Colabello and the Phillies’ Daniel Stumpf each were suspended 80 games for testing positive for Turinabol, I thought, “How stupid are these guys?’’

East Germany gave Turinabol, an anabolic steroid, to its Olympic athletes in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. But athletes waging battles against drug testers eventually moved on to newer and more sophisticated substances. At least that’s what we’ve always been told. The conventional wisdom was that, no matter how hard sports leagues and athletic federations fought the good fight, the cheaters would always be one step ahead of the testers.

But the cases of Colabello and Stumpf reveal something surprising, and it’s not just that they were using an old, out-of-fashion drug. According to ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,’’ testing for Turinabol has become more effective in the past two years. The drug used to be undetectable after a week, sometimes less.

“The window of detection has moved out to, typically, several weeks, and in some rare circumstances up to months after administration,” said Daniel Eichner, the president of the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Utah, told ESPN.

It makes you realize how ineffective the drug testing had been in the past. And unless an over-the-counter supplement is found to have Turinbol in it, it again raises the same question to the two suspended ballplayers: How dumb do you have to be to use a drug that has been around forever?

Colabello and Stumpf reportedly failed their drug tests in spring training. Every player is tested during camp, and the inference from the positive tests is that Colabello and Stumpf were confident the steroid would be out of their systems by the time they had to pee into a cup. Not that we needed a reminder that drugs are still around in baseball, but there it is.

Two things to remember:

— The cheaters were indeed ahead of the testers, but not just because new performance-enhancing drugs came along. The cheaters were ahead because the testing wasn’t nearly effective enough.

— Some cheaters are dumb.

According to “Outside the Lines,’’ there is at least one more suspension, and possibly more, on the way because of Turinabol use.


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