By Will Kimmey
January 14, 2003
Expos outfield prospect Terrmel Sledge became the second baseball player in eight days to draw a two-year ban from international competition for testing positive for a steroid.
Sledge’s name was posted on the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s sanctions list Tuesday, citing a positive test in October when he was trying out for the U.S. Olympic qualifying team. Sledge’s urine test showed traces of 19-norandrosterone and 19-noretiocholanolone, the same chemical derivatives related to androstenedione that got Angels righthander Derrick Turnbow a two-year ban on Jan. 5.
Sledge, 26, hit a career-high 22 home runs last season at Triple-A Edmonton, doubling his best previous season total. He entered the 2003 season with 34 home runs in 1,564 career at-bats. Sledge was added to the Expos 40-man roster after the 2002 season, and 40-man players are not subject to drug testing.
After Turnbow’s positive test Gene Orza, associate general counsel of the players’ union, said andro is a legal supplement in the U.S. and the substance was not forbidden by major league baseball.
“Derrick Turnbow did not test positive for a steroid,” Orza said. “He tested positive for what the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and others regard as a steroid, but the U.S. government does not.”
Turnbow was the first athlete sanctioned by the USADA in 2004, and Sledge and track and field participant Mickey Price became the second and third on Tuesday. Five of the 26 athletes sanctioned in 2003 tested positive for the same substance as Turnbow and Sledge. Those athletes competed in cycling (two), track and field (two) and swimming. No other baseball players appear on USADA sanction lists, which date back to 2001.
Turnbow acknowledged taking an over-the-counter nutritional supplement containing 19-norandrosterone, known in gyms as “19-nor,” but said he “didn’t know that what I was taking was going to make me fail a drug test, period.”
Neither Sledge nor the Expos could be reached for comment.