BOSTON -- Within the Past two weeks, two close friends of bOSTON Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz have been suspended for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy.
"Our drug test is legit," Ortiz said. "I believe in our drug test more than, even more than when we first start. Now, they have everything locked down just to avoid excuses. At the beginning, they were doing it, but when you start something it's not like you've got everything covered. Now, they do."
Ortiz himself was under suspicion in 2009 after a report came out saying that he was among a group of 104 players during the 2003 season that tested positive for PEDs, but MLB never issued a suspension. At the time Ortiz denied he had ever bought or injected steroids, but admitted to buying legal supplements and vitamins that could have trigged a positive result.
Ortiz has seen other good friends in the game suspended for using PEDs, including Manny Ramirez.
Meanwhile, MLB testing has become more in-depth and stringent, but players continue to take chances, and that baffles Ortiz.
"I still can't believe how guys take chances, bro," he said. "These people are not just telling you that you test positive, they tell you what you test for and if you think about it, they're not playing games. It's not like they're getting picky and saying who did and who didn't. They don't care. They came up with the idea to clean up the game and they're doing it. They're doing a great job. Guys have to be careful because this is your career, and once you get caught taking something that's not the right thing to do, it will do a lot of damage to your career."
Ortiz said that he has been tested more than 20 times during his career, and at least two or three times this season.
"I'm nobody to judge anyone," Ortiz said. "Whatever you do, you do it and you have a reason to do it. But bottom line is, you've got to be ready for the results. I guarantee those guys [Cabrera and Colon] are living a nightmare the last couple of weeks. It's got to be a nightmare for them, for their families, for their careers -- everything. Guys need to start making better decisions when it comes down to that.
"Our drug program is legit. You don't get away with s---. If you see the way they test you, just by the impression of how they do it, tells you a lot. It's bad when you have a friend, those two guys are really good friends of mine, and you don't want to see a friend struggle, and I know they're struggling big time right now. You've got to face your responsibilities for being irresponsible like that and making a bad decision. Hopefully they've learned their lesson and they've moved on."
When the news broke of Colon's suspension, numerous Red Sox players seemed almost confused by the fact that this generation of players would attempt to cheat the system. Some Red Sox players thought the game had moved past the steroid era.
"It's not past it because every time things like that come out, it puts doubt in peoples' minds once again," Ortiz said. "The good thing about the whole situation is, that not all of us are guilty because somebody failed. If you screwed up, I don't have to look at him and think he screwed up too. Poor decisions we make, we've got to pay for it."
The other discussion around Fenway in the past couple of days is the 50-game suspension for offenders. Some Red Sox players believe the penalty should be longer. Ortiz thinks 50 games for a first-time offender is enough.
"Fifty games, dude, out of 162? The guys who are getting caught in this, I don't think that when they are doing that they realize what 50 games means," Ortiz said. "Fifty games is a lot of games. I mean, I've been out of the game [with an Achilles strain] five weeks [35 games], and my situation's not even close to that, and I feel like s--- because I've missed 35 games with an injury and there's not much you can do about it, but wait for your injury to heal up so you can go back and play.
"Think about a 50-game suspension because you made the wrong decision. That would kill me. Think about those guys. Bartolo was the ace of his team and that team is playing really well, so don't you think he's at home scratching his head right now, like, 'I let my teammates down. I let my fans down. I let my family down.' He's not going to be able to play anymore this year. He might be the reason why they probably don't make the playoffs.
"Trust me, those guys right now are feeling it. They're feeling the heat."
Ortiz said he's extremely careful with his nutrition and intake of supplements, especially during the offseason.
"Everything you use, before you use it you've got to through MLB, period. There are no excuses," he said. "I live out of the country for a long period of time, I train and I do all my stuff and if I want to get supplements or vitamins, before I use it, I've got to let them know. You've got to be careful.
"There are no excuses, though. There could be some guy that's using a supplement, or whatever, without having the intention of using anything related to it, but still, you can't be running the risk because once they catch you with something in your system, you're quality as someone who just went and bought steroids."
Ortiz explained that even during the offseason, players are still subject to testing.
"If they holler at you, and you're not there, you're guilty. That's why I'm saying this is legit," he said. "Everybody needs to be careful with it. In case you take something and they know that it's not something for you to get your game better, they figure it out, too, because they're not trying to make anyone look like s---. It's not like they're trying to screw anybody. They want everybody to be clean and everybody to be the right way. They want to make sure we do it the right way.
"If you want to be part of MLB, you've got to keep it clean. You've got to keep it clean -- regardless."
Even with two high-profile players being suspended recently, Ortiz believes MLB's drug policy works.
"I absolutely understand. I don't think it's unfair at all -- at all," he said. "I'm a huge believer of the drug program, no doubt about it. These guys that do the test for us, they want to make sure you watch everything they do, and that you agree with everything that they are doing. They want to make sure your hands are clean. They want to make sure everything goes the right way. I can tell you that because I've been tested more than 20 times.
"Personally, I don't have no doubt about our drug tests or drug program."