Rios Suspended for Doping

Pitcher Daniel RiosDaniel Rios, a pitcher that Tokyo Yakult brought in from Korea to fill the very large gap in the starting rotation left by Seth Greisinger (currently 6-6, 4.20 ERA with Yomiuri), has received a one-year suspension for doping. The suspension is in effect until June 27th, 2009.

Rios was dropped from the first team on June 2nd after going 2-7 in 11 appearances (64 1/3 innings) and compiling a 5.46 ERA, so this suspension doesn’t help his cause very much. The demotion came after his first positive test on May 21 of this year.

Traces of hydroxystanozolol were found in his test sample, and a second test came back positive one month later. Hydroxystanozolol is a red flag for the anabolic steroid stanozolol, the same steroid that got Ben Johnson stripped of his 100m gold medal in the 1988 summer Olympics, and Rios becomes the third player in NPB history to be suspended for doping.

Stanozolol (or Winstrol) can be both injected and taken orally in pill form. It has featured prominently in several doping scandals as of late. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Big Brown have all seen their names tied to its use.

Many will argue that steroids had little positive influence on Rios’ performance when pitching for Tokyo, but he will probably be dismissed shortly. The Yomiuri Giants wasted very little time in terminating its contract with infield and in-form utility man, Luis Gonzalez, earlier this season.

About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini

  • Spiegel

    Good-bye and good-riddance.

  • Wilson’s first career start in Japan was on the same day that Rios’s second sample came back positive.

    Tokyo knew on May 21st that Rios was in trouble. The decision to grab Wilson was most likely made with that fact in mind.

  • He has been released, and is apparently denying any wrongdoing (so says a Yakult “front office official”).

    They showed film from the press conference on the news yesterday, and Rios was there suited up. But they didn’t say what he said (I could just make out something like “I just want to play baseball.” and “I’m sorry it ended this way”).

    He did look crestfallen at the press conference I have to say. Anyone got any quotes from the man himself on this matter?

  • I’ll answer my own question. I just watched a recording of yesterdays FujiTV739’s Pro Yakyu News and they showed his quote in full:

    “Simply I just want to apologise to NPB and the Yakult organisation, and most importantly to the guys I play with and the kids that watch the game of baseball. I’m sorry things turned out this way.”

    It also seems he obtained the dodgy materials from the US over the internet.

    Takada-kantoku commented that it came as a suprise to him and that he regrets that a member of his team is responsible for a doping offense, and that he was sorry for the whole episode.

  • Yeah, I saw the clip too. The news channel, whichever one it was, basically framed the press conference as his wish to apologize and face the music.

    The Japan Times quickly mentioned that a TYS club official had quipped that Rios denies the allegations.

  • Yeah, I saw that news clip as well, it didn’t sound like a denial but an apology and almost fully admitting it, but maybe that’s just the way they edited it. (And you know how Japan loves official apologies… domestically.)

    OK, so, the (new?) NPB drug testing policy has caught 3 players, all foreign. Is there a conspiracy, or are the foreign players just not getting all the info about the banned substances list?

  • Simon,
    I like the way you think!

    That is a question that definitely needs to be answered. I think that there’s probably some shifty stuff going on behind the scenes, like some players being warned about when they will be tested.

    Still, I’m sure that Rios knows that Winstrol is banned just about everywhere (except in horse racing).

    I assume that the NPB list of banned substances is common knowledge although I can’t back that up with a link.

    At the same time, the steroid clause in the contract is probably the easiest way, outside of a criminal offense, to fire a baseball player. I am very interested in learning more about the NPB’s “rules” for testing and reporting test results.

    How many loopholes are there?

    How easy is it to circumvent the testing system in order to protect a prized player or team/national pride?

    I can think of a few guys, both Japanese and non-Japanese, who are lucky not to have been tested under the current regime.

  • The other question is who is tested and when. Was Rios tested because he was early in his first season in the league? Did Tokyo have some suspicion and act on it only when they wanted to get rid of him?

    While having some kind of drug testing in place is a good idea, it’s easy to see why players’ unions in all sports might fear it: too easily used as a selective weapon.

  • Garrett,
    True true.

    Excellent questions, all.

    Now here’s mine:
    Rios in a Doosan Bears uniform (again) soon?

  • Would any KBO team touch him after this? Even without the drugs, he’d be coming off an abjectly poor season.

  • Well, Takatsu is in the KBO now after a similarly poor season in 2007, sans the drug thing though.

  • Rios also doesn’t quite have Takatsu’s resume.

  • Was Rios tested because he was early in his first season in the league? Did Tokyo have some suspicion and act on it only when they wanted to get rid of him?

    Bobby Valentine says it’s random drug testing. Doesn’t sound very comprehensive if what he says is true (translation care of NPB tracker).

  • Know what’s funny, but not very funny?

    The Doosan Bears own http://www.doosanbears.com, but guess who owns both http://www.tokyoyakultswallows.com and http://www.tokyoswallows.com.

  • Tim J

    I met Daniel Rios in Korea at a few KBO games. He was great for, loved, and always respected the Korean fans both as a member of the Kia Tigers and Doosan Bears. He even pitched in the Yankees organization previously. He is a veteran pitcher who was trying to make a name for himself and he made a mistake. I have respect for him for owning up to it. Unlike sports celebrities like Kobe Bryant, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGuire, and so many others that continue to lie until being proven guilty. I am still a fan of Danny’s and wish he could have pitched in the major leagues. Good luck and god bless him and his family in the future.