Toronto Blue Jays left-handed pitching prospect Thomas Pannone says he doesn’t know how an anabolic steroid ended up in his system.
MLB announced Friday that Pannone had received an 80-game suspension without pay after testing positive for the performance-enhancing substance dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (DHCMT). The suspension will begin at the start of the 2018 regular season.
In a statement posted on Pannone’s Twitter account, the 23-year-old described the Jan. 30 call from the MLB Players Association informing him of the positive test as “the most shocking phone call of my life.”
“I have never taken a performance enhancing drug in my career and I have spent every day since January 30th trying to determine how DHCMT could have been found in my urine,” Pannone said. “After researching the drug and doing everything in my power to prove my innocence, I am left deeply troubled and concerned.”
Pannone said he took a three-hour polygraph test and said “the results showed I was truthful, passing with one of the highest scores possible.”
Former Blue Jay Chris Colabello tested positive for DHCMT in 2016. Colabello also denied knowingly taking the substance.
Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins said he too was shocked to hear of Pannone’s failed test.
“I have personally known Thomas as long as he’s been in professional baseball and I have only known him to have exceptionally high character and integrity, so when I heard this news I was extremely surprised,” Atkins said in a statement released by the team.
“Additionally, when he informed me that he was unaware of how this substance got into his system, I believed him at his word. We will continue to support Thomas and focus on his return to helping this organization after his suspension. Having said that, we feel strongly that the MLB Joint Drug Program has helped the game of baseball and will continue to do so.”
Pannone started six games at double-A New Hampshire in 2017 after being acquired in a mid-season trade with the Cleveland Indians for reliever Joe Smith.
Pannone has a 3.16 earned-run average over 102 career minor-league games, including 76 starts, since being selected by Cleveland in the ninth round of the 2013 draft.
He was placed on Toronto’s 40-man roster in November, protecting him from the Rule 5 draft. The team optioned Pannone to triple-A Buffalo earlier this week.
The Canadian Press