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Dee Gordon unlikely to have accidentally taken steroid medications

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Dee Gordon's story is that he accidentally ingested unknown PED substances which were later found on positive drug tests in Spring Training. But one expert finds this story unlikely.

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The Miami Marlins and second baseman Dee Gordon are both disappointed with Gordon's 80-game suspension for performance enhancing drug use, initially found out during Spring Training. Gordon remained on the field for the start of the season because he was appealing the case, likely in large part because he felt he was wrongly incriminated in a violation he did not willingly commit. From the Joe Frisaro MLB.com piece:

"Though I did not do so knowingly, I have been informed that test results showed I ingested something that contained prohibited substances," Gordon said Friday morning in a statement released by the MLB Players Association. "The hardest part about this is feeling that I have let down my teammates, the organization, and the fans. I have been careful to avoid products that could contain something banned by MLB and the 20-plus tests that I have taken and passed throughout my career prove this. I made a mistake and I accept the consequences."

Gordon released the statement this morning because he dropped his appeal at this time and his suspension will now take place. Gordon notes that he did not take substances knowingly, figuring that his supplement regiment had been tainted. That is an argument most players who put up positive drug tests make, as it is an easy one to make and a hard one to suss out from the potential other option.

However, we do have some folks who know experts who think this might not be the case. FanDuel's injury expert Will Carroll points out that this seems unlikely in Gordon's scenario.

While Gordon issued a statement apologizing for being caught, he also used the common trope of saying he didn’t knowingly ingest the banned substances. There are cases where this has happened, but they are rare. In this case, it’s not plausible. Gordon tested for two banned substances, including one that has never been involved in a spiked supplement. Unless Gordon can provide a supplement he took, I simply can’t believe his story.

Carroll's reasoning is that Gordon tested positive for two drugs, which often means a "stack" or a combination of medications often intentionally taken for this purpose. Furthermore, they were not complicated or well-hidden medications; both testosterone and clostebol have established testing methods in urine screens.

One could kind of use these aspects in multiple ways. On the one hand, the combination is not an often-used one apparently, which could go along with the story of it being in a tainted supplement. Then again, Carroll provides a potential example of an easily-available substance that could correlate with Gordon's test.

That something else could have been "P-Mag" or promagnon, a prohormone not specifically banned under MLB or WADA policy, but is banned in some catch-all language. P-Mag is a methylated version of clostebol that metabolizes in the body into usable testosterone, the goal of any steroid use. Promagnon is widely available at a low cost. I was able to find hundreds of sources, with a price for a bottle of 60 tablets under $100.

The other, more compelling argument is that one of these two substances has never been involved in a spiked supplement situation. Clostebol has not been involved in such taintings, though anyone could imagine there being such a situation occurring. A 2007 study showed that 13 percent of sampled dietary supplements contained some form of steroid contaminant that was otherwise unlabeled. Former relief pitcher J.C. Romero famously had androstenedione in a tainted supplement and tested positive for the drug in 2008. Subsequently, he filed suit with the company that sold the supplement and settled out of court.

However, that is androstenedione, the most common supplement contaminant noted in that 2007 study. Gordon was found with other drugs, particularly the often-not-used clostebol. I can see why Carroll might hold strong suspicion in such a situation.

I can also see why Gordon made the comment about a tainted supplement. It very rarely will ever be challenged. In the world of opinions on performance enhancing drugs, people have staked their ground already. Those who are inclined to vilify PED users are going to always believe the story of Gordon willingly taking these substances to cheat and get ahead. Those who are Gordon apologists are much more likely to believe that he is being wrongfully suspended or that the supplement group is at fault. The fact that Gordon is no longer appealing the case can be seen as an implicit admission of guilt or as a guy who simply wants to move on after a difficult life ordeal.

In any of those instances, no one is going to challenge Gordon's claim, nor is anyone going to really change their opinion on its veracity and what it means for Gordon. The second he tested positive, the lines had been drawn and people's opinions were already going to be set. The claim is almost unnecessary, really.

At the end of the day, does it really matter to the public? We should not make our character judgments on Gordon based on this PED suspension anyway; it is but one part of Gordon's larger life story. Gordon now has to find a way to recover from this and come back to help this team after his suspension is complete.