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All foreign baseball players pass doping tests

All Headlines 13:42 May 14, 2015

SEOUL, May 14 (Yonhap) -- All foreign players competing in the top South Korean baseball league have passed doping tests, the league office announced Thursday.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) said each of the 31 foreign players on 10 clubs has tested negative in the mandatory procedure.

Nine of the 10 clubs can each carry three foreign-born players. The KT Wiz, an expansion franchise that joined the KBO this year, can have four foreign players in their first two seasons.

The KBO subjects all foreign players to drug tests each season, while it selects random South Korean players for tests. The league also targets players who show marked improvements in their performances in relation to their career averages.

In April, the KBO toughened penalties for doping violators.

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 was the case previously.

Lee Yong-chan, a right-hander for the Doosan Bears suspended in July, is the most recent player to be penalized for doping. He received a 10-game ban after testing positive for steroids. Lee appealed, claiming 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, 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.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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