New York Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia became the first person in the history of Major League Baseball to receive a lifetime suspension as a result of using anabolic steroids. Major League Baseball (MLB) announced the lifetime ban on February 12, 2016.
The MLB steroid policy is clear. It’s three strikes and you’re out (forever) under the MLB Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Mejia has already been suspended twice for steroids. The third steroid positive means an automatic and permanent suspension.
The 26-year old Mejia tested positive for boldenone in his most recent failed drug test. Boldenone is the parent compound in the veterinarian steroid known as Equipoise. The effects of boldenone are comparable to that of the nandrolone based steroids like Deca Durabolin. And since both Equipoise and Deca have relatively long half-lives, neither drug is advisable to a drug-tested athlete.
Mejia responded to the news of the third steroid positive by insisting that he did not use any banned performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
“I’m going to appeal. Win or lose, I have a lot of faith. I have to clear my name. I’m not going to sit back and do nothing. I’ll take this case to the very end. It is not like they say,” Mejia told Dominican sports journalist Hector Gomez. “I am sure that I did not use anything.”
There may have been a few friends and fans who would have believed him if it were his first time to be popped for steroids. Since Mejia tested positive for anabolic steroids on three different occasions within a one year time period, it is unlikely that anyone will believe him now.
In April 2015, Mejia was suspended for 80 games after stanozolol, also known as Winstrol, was detected in his system. At the time, Mejia has pleaded ignorance as to how the substance ended up in his body.
“I know the rules are the rules and I will accept my punishment, but I can honestly say I have no idea how a banned substance ended up in my system,” Mejia said in April 2015. “I have been through a lot in my young career and missed time due to injury. I have worked way too hard to come back and get to where I am, so I would never knowingly put anything in my body that I thought could hold me out further.”
In July 2015, Mejia was suspended for 162 games after both Winstrol and Equipoise metabolites were detected in his urine. Mejia had just finished serving his 80-game suspension when the second steroid positive and the resulting suspension were announced. Mejia joined New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez as the only two MLB players who had been suspended twice for steroids.
Even after two steroid positive and two lengthy suspensions, the New York Mets signed Mejia to a one-year, $2.47 million contract in December 2015. Given that Mejia still had 99 games remaining on his second suspension, he would not have been eligible to return until July 2016. This would have effectively reduced his salary to $958,000. Needless to say, the suspension reduced his 2016 salary from $958,000 to $0.
Mejia has the option to apply to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred for reinstatement after one year. If Manfred denies the application, Mejia could still appeal to an independent MLB baseball arbitrator for an end to the lifetime ban.
In either scenario, Mejia would still be forced to serve a minimum two year ban from Major League Baseball. And more importantly, Mejia would be required to pass all steroid tests administered during his suspension. This is something that has proven exceedingly difficult for Mejia to accomplish.
Most likely, Mejia will be forced to give up his dream of continuing to play in MLB. Since he is still young, he could likely continue his career in professional baseball leagues in the Dominican Republic, Japan, South Korea or Mexico albeit while receiving a fraction of his former MLB salary.