Bartolo Colon Reportedly Fails a Drug Test

Well, Melky Cabrera might now have some company. Jon Heyman is reporting that Bartolo Colon has failed a drug test and is subject to a 50 game suspension by MLB, which would end his season and make him ineligible for most of the playoffs.

Colon has been fantastic for the A’s this season at age 39, but his career revival was subject to some skepticism surrounding the injections of platelet rich plasma that he received in 2011, which raised questions about what kinds of treatments are performance enhancing in a viable way and which ones should be illegal. Colon was the poster child for the positive effects of PRP, and it seems unlikely that promoters of the treatment will continue to lean on him as evidence of its success.

For the A’s, this is certainly a blow, but the arrival of Brett Anderson from the disabled list now looks like incredibly valuable. Anderson might not be able to pitch at the same level that Colon did, but he should be able to replace most of that production, and help keep Oakland in the pennant race.

For Colon, my guess is that this will be the end of the line. He had trouble finding work last winter, and now heading into his age 40 season and coming off a PED suspension, I don’t imagine too many teams will be lining up to give him another shot.

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Dave is a co-founder of and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

115 Responses to “Bartolo Colon Reportedly Fails a Drug Test”

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  1. Jonathan says:

    Can this be “Year of the Least Surprising PED Busts?”

    I had trouble mustering a reaction to either this or Melky greater than shrugging at how unsurprising it was they failed a test.

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    • clayton says:

      waiting on Mike Trouts positive test

      -19 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • KJ says:

      Don’t know about you, but I was surprised by Marlon Byrd. Proof that steroids aren’t a cure-all.

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      • Jonathan says:

        Was it entirely clear when he was caught exactly?

        Considering his numbers this year, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if someone showed up at his house with a cup to pee in the second he got the needle out.

        Poor Marlon Byrd.

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      • ccoop says:

        not sure how you reached that conclusion. do you know something about his past use or non-use?

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      • Tom says:

        KJ – Some folks don’t get the inside joke….

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    • vic says:

      COMPLETELY agree with emindor3rd. 35 year old catchers routinely set career highs in HR and slugging. i mean, his slugging is only up, what, 80 points from his career high (in 2003). it’s not like the offensive environment has dissipated in the last 10 years. also, he’s only been scraping them out–18 out of his 23 are rated “plenty” or “no doubt”. further, his babip is only 10 points less than his career avg babip which clearly marks him as very lucky and bound for regression. and keep in mind, there is zero economic incentive for him to use PEDs. at most, he’s looking at *maybe* 20MM extra guaranteed dollars from a multiyear deal based on this level of production.

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  2. SeaBass says:

    I’d wager to say he didn’t start taking them until this season. Science has linked the procedure he had before the season began is more effective when PED’s are taken concurrently.

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  3. Josh A says:

    It certainly answers the question: “How do you improve the performance of a Colon?”

    +27 Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Ed says:

    I read this headline in the sidebar as “Bartolo’s Colon Reportedly Fails.”

    +28 Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. karcotte says:

    “Another Former Yankee Fails Drug Test”

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    • whiskeycritic says:

      is that you Peter Gammons?

      +17 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • kick me in the GO NATS says:

      6 teams have employed most of the steriod users who have been caught. Yankees are but one of them. The others A’s, Orioles, Giants, Cardinals, and Rangers.

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      • Barry Zuckerkorn says:

        Although I despise both the Yankees and Red Sox, I think it should probably be noted that those two teams are most likely the victims of circumstance more then actual breading grounds for users.

        When you are constantly actively buying the best talent available, you are going to be targeting and acquiring users at a much higher rate then the other clubs.

        I also don’t see how the Cardinals should be on the list. From my recollection, they too acquired most of the users they saw – and they have still seen fewer users then teams like the Padres, Astros and Twins, so their inclusion just seems a bit strange overall.

        The Padres especially were a hot-bed of use and should probably be mentioned in the 5 most suspect teams (along with Oak, SF, Balt and Tex)

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      • Cidron says:

        and, two of those teams are of the BA in BALCO – bay area.. oakland, and sf giants. coincidence?

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  6. j says:

    Clayton, you are an idiot!

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  7. TKDC says:

    Missed opportunity with the boring, straight forward title.

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  8. Andrew says:

    “…coming off a PED suspension, I don’t imagine too many teams will be lining up to give him another shot.”

    I thought it was the shots that got him in trouble in the first place :-)

    +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. mister_rob says:

    Billy Beane must have grown tired of finishing under 500 every year, so he started passing out the chemicals again

    -21 Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Petruchio says:

    Old guys who can’t play in the majors anymore using a crutch to keep themselves employed.

    MLB should really ban the DH.

    -10 Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Well-Beered Englishman says:

    Who knew all that bulk was pure, steely muscle?

    +39 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Hurtlockertwo says:

      Really, he certainly didn’t improve by working out. A least Melky looked like he got into shape.

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    • docirysch says:

      When I saw this on TV, I laughed and remarked that someone forgot to tell him you have to workout when you roid. He isn’t the physical poster boy for roids.

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  12. Chris says:

    If Andy Pettite can come back in 2013 so can Colon…

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  13. Oliver says:

    So is there some new test that’s catching testosterone more, are players just being stupid, or is it just coincidence?

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  14. Billion Memes says:

    Colon flushed from the A’s(s)?

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  15. Colin says:

    I’m now going to declare the Bay area a hotbed for steroids based on the robust sample size of two cases.

    Also, when is Bartolo’s website coming out?

    +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. Matty Brown says:

    It makes me wonder if there is a bias in testing practices. Melky and Colon are clearly easy suspects and I recall Bautista claiming that after his power spike he was tested like dozens of times more than usual (or some excessive total).

    What is the average amount of tests per player? Does every single player get tested at least once? I don’t know the answers, but a player who happens to be seeing a boost in performance cannot be subjected to increased testing just because of their performance.

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    • Jack says:

      I believe its once at spring training plus more ant a random time during the season, with more for previous offenders (Manny, now Melky and Colon) or if there is ‘just cause.’ They might not just test more for players experiencing a breakout, but for any player with playing at a high level, which may explain the Ryan Braun fiasco, as he had played at a high level for a long time, so it would be surprising if his one random test occured during the playoffs, like it did.

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      As I understand it, the testing isn’t designed to be purely random.

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    • Phantom Stranger says:

      The testing is not random by design. Basically MLB has the discretion to test players they suspect more often than a random player.

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  17. hitbullwinsteak says:

    tested positive for cheese fries.

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  18. Dirtbag says:

    Who is Colon’s agent? It’s not the Levinsons by chance, is it?

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  19. Rick says:

    Do Melky and Colon have the same dealer? And did that dealer happen to have a bad batch of testosterone enhancer this time?

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  20. AJP says:

    Really upsetting, I’ve been coming around to Colon the past year, I was thinking this a great story for baseball, himself, the A’s, and now this. It’s unsettling to know players still are doping at this rate. MLB has made great strides in recent year however they’re going to have to take more and better preventative steps to continue the decline of PED’s. Otherwise it’s going to be difficult for fans to be able to trust and support the sport moving forward.

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. MikeS says:

    There’s PEDs in Twinkies?

    +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. ChipJack says:

    OK, we now have FOUR players from the Bay Area that are involved in PED’s. Manny, G. Mota, Melky and now Bartolo Colon. And all four are from the Dominican Republic. I’m not trying to sound racist, but this seems to be more than just a trend at this point.

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    • fergie348 says:

      They got a lot of really good vitamins down there in the Dominican..

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    • Jonathan says:

      So many issues with this:

      1. Manny may have been born in DR, but he was raised in Manhattan.

      2. Both Manny and Mota failed tests long before coming to the Bay Area (Mota with the Mets or Indians and Manny with both the Dodgers and Rays, he never actually played a game in Oakland).

      3. All of these players have a much more obvious thing in common than the DR or Bay Area: they were all looking at the potential end of their careers. Manny, Mota and Colon were all aging players with nothing left to lose who were looking at either juicing or retiring. Cabrera was young, but in a similar boat of it being a make or break period for him (He had a -1.0 WAR in 2010).

      +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • ChipJack says:

        That’s why I was stating I’m not trying to sound like this is a racial issue. But is it possible that it is a “social” issue? Have they socialized in the same groups due to their heritage? Are they being supplied by someone in those social circles? PED is a big spectrum of potential abuse, so are they all associated? PED’s can’t generally be bought at your local pharmacy, so is there a connection?

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      • kick me in the GO NATS says:

        Sorry but Manny was always Manny. It was not a late in career decision.

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      • Jonathan says:


        There are few things more hilarious than a “I’m not trying to be racist, but…” remark followed by something that is remarkably racist.

        They’re not in some secret Dominican Steroid club. People from the same race/nationality don’t all hang out together. I’m a white dude with a beard from New Hampshire and I’ve never met Brian Wilson, for example.

        Sorry, but implying that the fact these guys are all Domincan has ANYTHING to do with their steroid use is text book racist. The reason they all did steroids is obvious on the surface: they were all looking at a situation where their choice was steroids or their career ending. That has nothing to do with being from the Dominican Republic.

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      • ChipJack says:

        Jonathan, you obviously have not been to the Bay Area. There are TONS of “social clubs” dedicated to the myriad of different nationalities that are in this area. I’m suggesting that is possible that they have come into contact with someone that is suggesting this use. With Bonds, it was BALCO. You can state that “money” is the reason they did what they did, but I guarantee there is more to this story than just a declining career.

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      • Uncle Remus says:

        Maybe its just society.

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      • drewcorb says:

        I think the DR thing is irrelevant, but it’s not racist. Chipjack was citing their country of origin, not the color of their skin or ancestry. There’s nothing wrong with making the observation. Just point out that it’s wrong and move on instead of debating whether it is racist or not.

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      • BronxBomber says:

        Yeah. They all chilled at the Mark McGwire club wit Bonds an dem.

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    • Manny Mota says:

      You leave me alone!

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    • BX says:

      Manny was playing for Tampa Bay when he got busted.

      He signed with Oakland after he got suspended.

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  23. fergie348 says:

    I’ll go out on a limb and say that *any* player that has established a baseline of performance in organized baseball and then suddenly leapfrogs that performance is suspect. My #1 person of interest right now is Luis Cruz. He’s had 11 seasons of amazingly mediocre performance in various minor league stops including the Mexican league last year, then all of a sudden he posts a 115 wRC+ with the Dodgers this year? Small sample sizes and all, but it’s a little red flag given what we know about baseball..

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  24. baty says:

    It is pretty irritating to look at the standings and realize just how valuable Colon and Melky have been to these playoff races.

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. Danny says:

    Moneyball 2: Back to the PEDs

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  26. rotofan says:

    Never imagined a case of ‘roids could extend to the Colon

    +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

  27. kick me in the GO NATS says:

    Colon Dump Creates More Sh__ for Beane

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  28. ucanthandlethetruth says:

    notice colon wasnt caught while playing for the yankees. unlike the low revenue A’s the Yankees have enough $$$ to buy proper PED maskers for their players.

    in unrelated news 38 year old derek jeter is having quite a bounce back season this year. good for him.

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    • BronxBomber says:

      I’m not even a Jeter fan – but let’s bring out the pitchforks and torches! So ucanthandlethetruth: when did you stop eating your snot?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  29. The A’s got pretty good value out of him, a nice ending to a fine career; undeserving Cy Young not withstanding.

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  30. willjohnson says:

    I seriously doubt Jeter is juicing, but him getting caught would make me so happy as a lifelong Jeter hater.

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  31. Kyle says:

    OK. So I see puns, “social issues”, and sorry for the A’s comments. But I’m surprised to see no talk about what this means for the WC race. The A’s are, after all, 1/2 a game out. And got there with a cheater. Maybe it’s just that I’m an O’s fan desperate for a playoff appearance, but I find myself wishing the MLB would repeal wins based on WAR accumulated by these PED offenders. If nothing else it would help to encourage teams to discourage their players from cheating. Also! I want the O’s in the playoffs!

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    • Andre says:

      Uh. MLB doesn’t exactly regard WAR the same way Fangraphs users do.

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    • BX says:

      It WILL be interesting if both the Giants and the A’s get Wildcard berths……. in races that were determined by less than one game.

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    • Jonathan says:

      Sure, you can take those wins from the A’s, but then you’ve got to strip the ’97 and ’96 O’s of Palmeiro’s contributions. Suddenly a fifteen year playoff drought turns into 29 years.

      Slippery slope and all that.

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  32. rtcrules says:

    If they checked for cholesterol he’d been popped a long time ago.

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  33. bonestock94 says:

    Colon Blown out of Oakland

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  34. rubesandbabes says:

    Okay, this article is factually incorrect in kinda 2 big ways:

    1) Colon was not the poster child for Platelet Rich Plasma – Colon had some even weirder, but likely more effective stem cell therapy. I am not a doctor, and don’t understand these things exactly, but it’s two different things. So called plasma therapy is a quack science that guys like Tiger Woods and A-Rod have received, but effectively it’s getting a blood transfusion – so, something that would get you kicked out of the Olympics, but somehow not the World Baseball Classic.

    2) There simply isn’t any baseball community skepticism of either therapy, and it’s sorta a smear for Dave Cameron to say so after the fact (Sorry, Dave).

    You don’t buy it? Okay, well, Fangraphs does a little article on everything, so where is the skeptic’s article on either therapy from Fangraphs? Answer – no one ever wrote any such thing. How about other baseball sources? Again, no – baseball community is not paying that much attention…

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  35. Stringer Bell says:

    Let me make the same point I made with Melky in two ways…

    1) Neither of them have any noticeable change in physique

    2) Neither of them are experiencing upgrades in the so called PED improved areas

    Melky was seeing the ball better and hitting for a higher average/BABIP, but he wasn’t hitting for any more power, or at least enough that could be written off as hitting your physical prime (since he’s 27/28 this year). Colon isn’t seeing any increased movement on his pitches, and the speed of them all appears to be relatively stable within the context of comparing it to past years. So, how exactly, do these guys appear as candidates? Because one came back from a long hiatus with better control (PEDs make you Greg Maddux now apparently)?

    I’m with Keith Law on this, there’s no existential proof that PEDs actually increase performance to the degree that people make it out to be. If anything, it could be having a placebo effect to some degree.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  36. Has anyone noticed how many of this current crew of PED Heads are former Yankees.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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