MINNEAPOLIS -- In wake of a surprising 80-game suspension for Miami's Dee Gordon, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander spoke out about the current state of drug testing in Major League Baseball and called for tougher standards.
Verlander said he believes there should be both more frequent testing and stiffer penalties for performance-enhancing drug use.
"I think the players, mostly, we're all together. We want a clean game," Verlander said prior to Friday's game between the Tigers and Minnesota Twins at Target Field. "And us and the players association have pushed to where it is now. I think a lot of people will think the other way around. No, it's the players pushing. We've pushed the system to where it's at. And we still want it to be [better]. I mean, we have the best testing system in the world right now. Is it good enough? No."
Verlander said the quality of testing is already "as good as it gets," but the frequency with which players undergo testing should be more stringent.
"The problem is the quality of the stuff guys are taking is better than the quality of our tests. They're always a step ahead," Verlander said. "But I think more [testing] and harsher penalties. And I think that's a general consensus among players, and I'm sure that's ... I think that's what everyone wants. MLB needs to address it."
Earlier in the day, Verlander tweeted this from his official Twitter account, presumably in response to Gordon's suspension. In his post, he said players who test positive for PEDs shouldn't play. "You shouldn't be allowed to [affect] games while appealing."
Gordon, who tested positive for exogenous testosterone and clostebol, apparently tested positive for these substances during spring training, a source told ESPN's Jayson Stark. Gordon played in two games against the Tigers during the club's season-opening series in Miami.
That shouldn't have been allowed to happen, in Verlander's opinion.
"I think if a guy has tested positive, they shouldn't be on the field affecting the outcome of baseball games, when there is so much at stake," he said. "We're fighting and clawing for 162 games. You'd hate to see something happen here at the very end, you lose by a game or something, and you say 'What if?' You know, 'What if that guy hadn't been on the field?'"
Verlander is not sure how to rectify this situation while keeping the appeals process in place, but he'd like to see solutions presented. The 33-year-old ace, who serves as the Tigers' de facto MLBPA representative, feels his opinions are shared by many fellow players, and that could serve as the impetus for tougher testing in the next collective bargaining agreement.
"The players have been pushing for this. We got it to where it is now, and obviously, [if] we still want tougher testing, then both sides would probably want ... this game to be clean," he said.
Verlander said he is strict about what he puts in own body. He said his girlfriend, supermodel and actress Kate Upton, has suggested he take some of the vitamins she does, but he refuses unless things are NSF-certified.
"Even a B12 vitamin. I won't put anything in my system that's [not certified]," Verlander said.
"I don't worry about it. Test me every day," he said. "I don't care. I've been that way my whole career."
Verlander was asked whether he thought PED use was still prevalent in baseball.
"I don't know. I don't want to speculate," he said. "It's not fair to speculate. Obviously, it's still out there."