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Top baseball league toughens doping penalties

All Headlines 17:56 April 07, 2015

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, April 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top baseball league on Tuesday announced toughened penalties for doping violators, saying it wants to ensure more transparent competition.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) held its third executive committee meeting of 2015 with general managers of the 10 KBO League clubs on hand. They agreed to strengthen penalties for players who test positive for banned substances, and also broke down disciplinary measures for different types of substances.

Previously, first-time offenders were suspended for 10 games. Under the new anti-doping policy, those who test positive for human growth hormones will be banned for 10 games. Players caught with stimulants will be suspended for 20 games. Finally, those that test positive for performance-enhancing drugs will be banned for 30 games.

In all of these cases, the offenders will be identified.

Under the previous drug policy, second-time offenders were banned for 30 games, but they will now be suspended for 50 games. Third-time offenders will be slapped with a lifetime ban from baseball, as is the case presently.

Lee Yong-chan, right-hander for the Doosan Bears who was suspended last July, is the most recent player to be penalized for doping. He received a 10-game ban after testing positive for steroids. Lee appealed that he had taken prescribed medication to treat a skin condition, but he didn't formally apply for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) prior to taking the medication, as stipulated in the league's anti-doping regulations.

In 2009, former major league pitcher Runelvys Hernandez, who had signed with the Samsung Lions, tested positive for a banned substance, but he was released by the team before the test results were made public. A year later, the Kia Tigers' Ricardo Rodriguez, also an ex-big league pitcher, failed his doping test, but his results were also announced after the Tigers had already released him.

In 2012, Kia's catcher Kim Sang-hoon tested positive for a banned substance, but the KBO didn't suspend him under a TUE. Kim and his team doctors successfully proved that the substance was contained in the medication he'd been prescribed to treat a foot injury.

In October 2011, the Bears' catcher Kim Jae-hwan failed a doping test before the Baseball World Cup that same year. Though the test was done during the KBO offseason, the league still suspended him for 10 games in the 2012 season.

One former KBO pitcher, Daniel Rios, failed a drug test while playing for the Yakult Swallows in Japan in 2008, one year after winning the KBO MVP for the Bears.


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