Royals minor-league infielder Raul Mondesi, the organization’s top prospect, was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball on Tuesday after testing positive for Clenbuterol, a performance-enhancing substance. The suspension is effective immediately, the league office announced in a statement.
“It is by far one of the hardest moments I have had to face in my life, but it is a decision that I accept and one that I take full responsibility for as a professional,” Mondesi said in a statement.
Mondesi must sit out 50 minor-league games before being eligible to return. He will be eligible for the MLB postseason and any tie-breaker games, should the Royals advance that far, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Mondesi was on the Royals’ World Series roster last season.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Mondesi said the positive test came after he took an “over-the-counter medication (Subrox-C)” in the Dominican Republic during the offseason to treat “cold and flu symptoms”. He did not know the medication contained a banned substance, the statement said.
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“I tested positive for that banned substance, with a minuscule amount of Clenbuterol in my system which could not have possibly enhanced my performance on the field,” Mondesi said, “and now must face the consequences of that mistake.”
The positive test was believed to have occurred during spring training. Mondesi began the regular season at Class AA Northwest Arkansas, where he is batting .250 with five homers and five doubles in 25 games.
The suspension was originally for 80 games, according to a source close to the situation. It was negotiated down to 50 games when Mondesi showed the substance came from the medication. The reduced suspension was first reported by Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
“This is an unfortunate incident that we believe to be an innocent mistake,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said in a statement. “But these are the consequences that players face when they do not adhere to the policies that have been collectively bargained. We have a protocol in place with our medical team should a player ever have questions about what they may be taking, even if an over-the-counter medication. In this particular case the protocol was not followed and the consequences are such. We remain supportive of Raul Mondesi Jr.”
The substance Clenbuterol is commonly used as a decongestant for people with breathing problems. It is, however, not approved for human use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and it is also banned by the International Olympic Committee because of its performance-enhancing capabilities. The drug is popular among the body-building community because it can help burn fat while retaining muscle mass.
In his statement, Mondesi offered an apology to the Royals organization, his teammates and fans.
“Never did I intend to take a substance that would give me an unfair advantage on the field,” he said. “It is solely my mistake and there are no excuses for my carelessness in not being fully informed of what I put in my body.”
Mondesi, who turns 21 on July 27, is the son of former All-Star outfielder Raul Mondesi Sr., who won the American League Rookie of the Year award in 1994. The younger Mondesi signed with the Royals in 2011 for a $2 million signing bonus. Last October, he became the first player in major-league history to make his big-league debut in the World Series. He recorded one pinch-hit at-bat during a 9-3 loss to the New York Mets in Game 3 at Citi Field.
“My goal is to work through this setback and make it back in time to help my organization compete for another World Series title,” Mondesi said.