Cano is among an infamous list of MLB players caught using banned substances
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
Robinson Cano of the New York Mets has been suspended for the entire 2021 MLB season. The second baseman tested positive for stanozolol, a performance enhancing drug (PED), and the same drug Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson was caught using during the 1988 Olympics. This is Cano’s second violation and will forfeit his salary of $24 million.
Cano, as a member of the Seattle Mariners in 2018—missed 80 games after testing positive for a diuretic. ESPN reported in an online article published in November 2020, Cano stated the diuretic had been given to him “…by a licensed doctor in the Dominican Republic to treat a medical ailment.” Cano claimed that he did not realize the drug was banned by MLB. When the suspension was announced, Cano issued a statement in an attempt to defend his dignity and integrity: “I would never do anything to cheat the rules of the game that I love.”
But Cano is not the only baseball player caught using banned substances. Cano is just one of numerous players whose names and reputation are now tarnished using PEDs. It also raises suspicion of who else may also be cheating and using PEDs to prolong their baseball careers. In the case of Cano, there is probable reason why he was caught again for using PEDs: he is an aging ball player at 38 making a huge salary. Perhaps Cano felt pressure to live up to his big contract (Cano signed a 10-year deal totaling $240 million with the Seattle Mariners in 2013). He used PEDs to help him stay competitive in the Mets lineup. However, it is very difficult to feel any sympathy for Cano—since this is the second time he has been caught. His reputation has been tainted and his chances of getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame are in doubt. Here is a look back at other MLB players who decided that doing it the “clean” way was just too difficult.
Alex Rodriguez, “A-Rod,” was not immune to scandal and links to steroid use during his baseball career. He has always denied ever using steroids. However, while playing for the New York Yankees, he was involved in the Biogenesis scandal in 2013. Rodriguez and 12 other players had purchased PEDs from the now-defunct clinic, Biogenesis of America. Each player involved received heavy suspensions of 50 or more games (nearly a third of a season). In August 2013, a few weeks after the news broke that A-Rod was connected to the Biogenesis scandal, the Yankees played the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Red Sox pitcher, Ryan Dempster (from Gibsons, BC), made his feelings known about how he felt about Rodriguez—intentionally hitting him in the left arm. Rodriguez would later be suspended for the entire 2014 season after violating the league’s anti-doping rules. The New York Post bestowed him with honourable headline names “A-Hole” and “A-Rat.” Don’t think J-Lo would appreciate those names.
The slugger, then of the Oakland Athletics, became the first MLB player to reach the 40/40 plateau, hitting 40 home runs while stealing 40 bases in 1988. Canseco was known for hitting long bombs including a famous home run during the 1989 ALCS playoffs against the Toronto Blue Jays—where Canseco hit a monster home run high into the left upper deck at the Skydome (now called Rogers Centre). Maybe there was a reason why he was hitting so many bombs as Canseco later admitted that he had been using steroids during his baseball career. Canseco wrote a tell-all book called Juiced in 2005 where he named other ball players who were also using PEDs. Canseco severed many friendships in baseball after the book was published. In 2012, Canseco posted on Twitter, his regrets writing the book: “I am truly sorry for hurting my [teammates] and friends when I wrote Juiced.”
McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals was part of the 1998 home run chase along with Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs. Both hitters were trying to break Roger Maris’ long standing record of 61 home runs in a season. McGwire would break Maris’ record on September 8 against the Cubs and finish with 70 home runs. Sosa would finish the season with 66 home runs. In March 2005, McGwire testified during the congressional hearings into steroid use in baseball. But he was evasive and uncooperative and refused to discuss anything—let alone whether he took PEDs. Five years later, McGwire would come clean and admit that he had been using PEDs during his pro baseball career. However, McGwire denied that steroids helped him hit home runs, telling Bob Costas in an interview on the MLB Network in January 2010: “I believe I was given this gift [to hit home runs]. The only reason I took steroids was for health purposes.”
He was the counterpart to Mark McGwire during the 1998 home run chase. While McGwire took a long time to finally admit he had used steroids during his baseball career, Sosa has always denied that he used PEDs. There has always been a cloud of suspicious surrounding Sosa and this doubt about him being a “clean” hitter came to the forefront in 2003 when he was caught using a corked bat. In addition, Sosa was named as part of the anonymous list of players that were connected to steroids in 2003. Also, he was one of 11 players and executives that were subpoenaed to speak in front of congress in 2005 pertaining to steroid use. “I never had a test positive in this country,” Sosa said to Jeremy Schaap of ESPN. However, The New York Times reported in 2009 that Sosa did have a positive test during MLB’s anonymous survey testing six years earlier. “No, I never missed any test at the major league level,” he said in response to a follow-up question. Mr. Sosa, meet Mr. Cano. Mr. Cano, meet Mr. Sosa.