Dodgers’ Kuo tested positive

Times Staff Writer

Dodgers pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo tested positive for a banned substance in the run-up to December’s Asian Games in Qatar, but a Major League Baseball official said Monday it is unlikely he’ll face disciplinary action.

Kuo’s agent, Alan Chang, blamed the positive test on a Chinese herbal cold remedy containing ginseng. The pitcher, who did not travel with the Dodgers to Monday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, told reporters in Vero Beach he did nothing wrong. “I didn’t take anything,” he said. “I don’t know how it came to this.”

After speaking with Kuo and Chang, Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said he had no reason to doubt either man.

“We are aware that Major League Baseball is looking into the issue,” he said. "[But] given Kuo’s explanation that this was simply a cold medicine, we consider it a nonissue unless new developments come to light.”


Said MLB spokesman Patrick Courtney: “We just became aware of it and we’re looking into it.”

The positive test results, which Kuo and Chang have known about since December, were revealed publicly Monday by the China Times, which suggested the test may have been the reason Kuo sat out Taiwan’s gold-medal-game victory over Japan. But the Chinese Taipei Baseball Assn. said Monday that Manager Chih-Shien Yeh had not been aware Kuo had failed his pre-Games test until after the team returned to Taiwan and held him out of the final only because the pitcher had complained of a sore arm.

This isn’t the first time baseball has had to deal with players failing drug tests performed outside MLB’s testing program. In 2003, for example, pitcher Derrick Turnbow and outfielder Terrmel Sledge tested positive for banned substances during trials for the U.S. Olympic team. Neither player was penalized by MLB.

However, a baseball source said Monday if MLB’s investigation turns up anything suspicious, Kuo could be subject to a “probable-cause test” -- which could lead to a suspension.

Kuo, a left-hander, started Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the New York Mets in October and is one of six pitchers vying for the final spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

He threw two hitless innings Sunday and has given up two hits and a run in six innings this spring.