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Morse Says Suspension Is ‘Unfair’

Times Staff Writer

Seattle Mariner shortstop Mike Morse was suspended 10 days Wednesday after testing positive for steroids, a punishment he called “unfair” despite ingesting two steroids -- stanolozol and Deca-Durabolin -- as a minor leaguer.

Tests administered since early 2004, when Morse served the first of two minor league suspensions for steroids, appeared to confirm a diminishing amount of the performance-enhancing drugs in his system. There remained, however, enough residual Deca-Durabolin, according to sources, to show a positive result by baseball’s testing standards.

The players’ association argued in the grievance process that Morse was penalized three times for the same offense; Morse admitted to baseball authorities upon his first positive test 16 months ago that he used steroids in the winter of 2003-04 in order to recover from a thigh injury.

Deca-Durabolin, an oil-based steroid, is believed to remain in the body for as long as 18 months.

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Morse, who admitted to “an enormous mistake in my life,” said he tested positive in May and presented his case before an arbitration panel in July.

“I am troubled that I will be suspended for the third time despite the fact that the scientific evidence supports that I kept my promise that I would never use steroids again,” he said in a statement.

“In May 2004, I was punished and suspended, which I deserved, for my mistake. I embarrassed myself, my family and my team. I am responsible for the mistake of taking steroids, and the positive result was not due to some over-the-counter supplement, protein shake or tainted test.”

Michael Weiner, general counsel of the players’ union, said in a statement that Morse tested “at an extremely low level, a level which would give Morse no competitive advantage.

“Nonetheless, the panel concluded that the Basic Agreement required that Morse be suspended yet again. While we respect the panel’s decision as final and binding, the [players’ union] does not believe the parties ever intended for the Basic Agreement to compel such a harsh result.”

Players who have violated the minor league drug policy are not immune from renewed testing, even for the same substance, once they reach the majors, but they are disciplined as first-time offenders in the major league system.

“We’re aware that [Morse] has said publicly the results are unfair,” MLB vice president Rob Manfred said. “The fact is, the players know when they use steroids they’re going to be disciplined. They are responsible for what is in their bodies.”

Violators are put in a follow-up program and are subject to further testing. After their suspensions, they are permitted to play as long as the levels of the identified performance-enhancing drug diminish, and without regard to potential advantages in the interim.

Morse is the ninth major leaguer to violate the policy, which was instituted in March.


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