Anaheim Angels reliever Derrick Turnbow, the first major leaguer
to test positive for a banned steroid, faces a two-year ban from
international competition but will not face any sanctions from
Major League Baseball.
Turnbow, a right-hander with a 98 mph fastball, went 2-0 with 15
strikeouts in 15 1-3 innings after a Sept. 1 callup from the minors
last season. He flunked the drug test during a U.S. Olympic
training camp in October.
Turnbow told his agent, Jeff Borris, that the positive drug test
was the result of an over-the-counter dietary supplement. The Major
League Baseball Players Association said Tuesday that Turnbow did
not use anything players with big league contracts currently are
prohibited from using.
The case points once again to the dichotomy between strict
international doping rules and those of baseball and other U.S.
"International athletes are held to much higher standards than
Major League Baseball, which has a program that has very little
muscle at all," said Dick Pound, chairman of the World Anti-Doping
Agency and a harsh critic of baseball's drug policies.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said Tuesday that Turnbow tested
positive Oct. 7 in Tempe, Ariz., for "a steroid violation, which
resulted from taking nandrolone, norandrostenedione or
norandrostenediol." All three of those substances are
performance-enhancing steroids, the agency said in a statement.
Gene Orza, associate general counsel of the Major League
Baseball Players Association, said Turnbow had tested positive for
androstenedione -- the over-the-counter supplement popularized by
Mark McGwire during his chase of the home run record in 1998. Andro
is now banned in the minor leagues, but is not regulated in the
"Derrick Turnbow did not test positive for a steroid. He tested
positive for what the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and
others regard as a steroid, but the U.S. government does not,"
"Baseball players are not currently prohibited from buying and
using androstenedione," Orza said in an e-mail to The Associated
Press. "The IOC and its affiliates can and do ban whatever they
feel like banning, because the athletes they exploit have no
Major League Baseball will begin penalizing players for steroid
use this season after more than 5 percent of last year's anonymous
tests came back positive. A first positive test for steroid use
will result in treatment, but no suspension.
Since Turnbow tested positive in 2003, he will not be required
to undergo such treatment.
Turnbow originally was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in
1997, and was a Rule 5 pick by the Angels in 1999. He appeared in
24 games for the Angels in 2000, but then spent the following two
seasons in the minors, during which time he had a broken forearm.
He impressed the Angels in his 11-game stint as a middle
reliever last season, throwing as hard as 98 mph.
"Major league baseball players are governed by an agreed-upon
drug policy. There is a similar policy that applies to minor league
players as well," said Angels Vice President Tim Mead. "Derrick
Turnbow is on our 40-man roster, thus comes under the umbrella of
the major league drug policy."
Turnbow was not selected for the U.S. national team that played
in Olympic qualifying games in November at Panama City. The team
failed to qualify for the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Paul Seiler, the executive director of USA Baseball, said
Turnbow's case should not inhibit other pros from participating on
national teams and facing stricter drug regulations.
"The point is a lot of people fail to see there are 30 other
guys there was no issue with, many of them top prospects," he
said. "It's not like every time we go out and use professional
players that we have these issues. Derrick rerpsents one in several
"It seems like the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater
here," Seiler said. "We don't really see it as this big black
mark against the sport."