San Diego Padres dynamo Fernando Tatis Jr., one of the brightest and freshest stars in all of Major League Baseball, was suspended 80 games Friday after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
MLB said Tatis tested positive for Clostebol, an anabolic steroid. Tatis said he accidentally took ringworm medication that contained the banned substance.
The MLB-imposed ban took effect immediately, meaning the shortstop, who had been out all season with a broken wrist but was expected to return to the playoff-contending Padres next week, he can’t play in the majors this year.
Tatis will miss the remaining 48 regular-season games this year and the first 32 next year. Any postseason game the Padres play this year would count toward the 80 Tatis must sit out.
Tatis, who signed a 14-year, $340 million deal before the 2021 season, became one of the most prominent players ever banned for performance-enhancing drugs, along with Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and others. MLB said the suspension will also prevent Tatis from playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
Flashy at the plate and in the field, Tatis was an All-Star last season when he led the NL with 42 home runs. He was lined up to join the Padres soon to boost a lineup that recently added star outfielder Juan Soto.
In a statement released by the players’ union, Tatis said he was “completely devastated” and apologized to Padres management, his teammates, MLB and “and fans everywhere for my mistake.”
“Turns out I inadvertently took a ringworm medication that contained Clostebol,” he said. “I should have used the resources available to make sure there were no banned substances in what I took. I did not do it.
“I have no excuse for my mistake, and I would never do anything to cheat or disrespect this game that I love,” he said.
Freddy Galvis and Dee Gordon are among the MLB players previously suspended for using Clostebol, which can be used for ophthalmic and dermatological use. It’s also banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and Olympic cross-country skier Therese Johaug was suspended in 2016 after testing positive.
Johaug, one of Norway’s most decorated cross-country skiers, has tested positive for the steroid clostebol. The Norwegian ski federation said the drug came from a lotion given to him by team doctor Fredrik Bendiksen to treat sunburn on his lips during high-altitude training in Italy in August.
Tatis was the seventh player suspended this year under Major League Baseball’s drug program. Thirty-three have been suspended under the minor league drug program.
Players who test positive for PED are not eligible for that year’s postseason.
The son of a former major leaguer, Tatis made his MLB debut in 2019 and quickly became a huge success. He has a .965 career OPS and has played shortstop and the outfield.
Tatis became one of the biggest MLB players suspended by PEDs since sanctioned tryouts began in 2004, joining Rodríguez (2014 season), Ramírez (50 games in 2009 and 100 games in 2011), Robinson Canó (80 games in 2018 and 2020 season) and Miguel Tejada (105 games in 2013).
Tatis had been on the disabled list this season after breaking his left wrist; the accident is believed to have been in December in a motorcycle accident in the Dominican. He underwent surgery in mid-March.
On August 6, Tatis began a minor rehab assignment with Double-A San Antonio. He went 2-for-9 with a double and a triple in four games.
“We were shocked and very disappointed to learn today that Fernando Tatis Jr. tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Prevention and Treatment Program and subsequently received an 80-game unpaid suspension. ,” the Padres said in a statement. “We fully support the program and are hopeful that Fernando will learn from this experience.”
The Padres traded for Soto earlier this month with hopes of making it through October. They were hopeful that a roster that included Soto, Tatis and fellow slugger Manny Machado would give them a better shot at the first World Series championship in team history; now, they will have to try without one of those key pieces.
Tatis will not be able to play for the Dominican Republic in the WBC next March. Dominican fans had been salivating at the prospect of a bruised lineup that included Tatis, Soto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Rafael Devers and José Ramírez.
The penalty will cost Tatis about $2.9 million.
Tatis will lose $1,510,989 of his $5 million salary this year, covering the last 55 days and 48 games of the season. He will lose roughly $1.39 million of his $7 million salary for the first 32 games of next season, with the exact number to be determined based on the number of days he misses.
“There is no other place in the world that I would rather be than on the field competing with my teammates,” Tatis said. “After initially appealing the suspension, I have realized that my mistake was the cause of this result, and so I have decided to begin serving my suspension immediately. I look forward to meeting my teammates on the field in 2023.”
“I have taken countless drug tests throughout my professional career, including on March 29, 2022, all of which have come back negative until this test,” he said.
The penalty was announced shortly before the Padres played in Washington. San Diego began the day 63-51 and occupying the last of three NL wild-card spots.