More procedural issues in MLB's steroid testing

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More procedural issues in MLB's steroid testing

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Major League Baseball dropped its 100-game suspension of Colorado Rockies catcher Eliezer Alfonzo for a positive drug test because of the same procedural issues that came up in the Ryan Braun case. Alfonzo is eligible to play immediately, according to a person familiar with the decision who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday night because no announcement had been made. Mostly a backup during six major league seasons, Alfonzo became the first player suspended twice for performance-enhancing drugs under the MLB testing program when the commissioner's office announced a 100-game penalty last September. Alfonzo appealed and was notified within the past week that MLB had lifted the ban. The reason: a dispute over the storage and shipment of his urine sample similar to the one that led to Braun's 50-game drug penalty getting overturned by an arbitrator in February, the person said. The person was not familiar with specific details regarding the chain of custody of Alfonzo's specimen. Alfonzo's contract was renewed by the Rockies in March, but he was not paid while he was on the restricted list during the suspension. He is currently assigned to Triple-A Colorado Springs in the Pacific Coast League, but the 33-year-old catcher has been at home in Venezuela, the person said. Alfonzo gets the minimum 480,000 salary in the majors and 86,473 in the minors. A message left for Rockies spokesman Jay Alves late Sunday night was not immediately returned. Braun, last year's NL MVP, tested positive in October for elevated testosterone, which was revealed by ESPN in December. His sample was collected on Oct. 1, a Saturday and the day he and the Milwaukee Brewers opened the NL playoffs. The collector did not send the sample to the laboratory until Monday, thinking it would be more secure at home than at a Federal Express office during the weekend. Baseball's drug agreement states that "absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the laboratory on the same day they are collected." Braun appealed and when his ban was thrown out by arbitrator Shyam Das, MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred said management "vehemently" disagreed with the decision, which made the Milwaukee slugger the first major league player to successfully challenge a drug-related penalty in a grievance. During the hearing, Braun's side challenged the chain of custody from the time the urine sample was collected by Comprehensive Drug Testing Inc. to when it was sent, nearly 48 hours later, to a World Anti-Doping Agency-certified laboratory outside Montreal, two people familiar with the case said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because what took place in the hearing is supposed to be confidential. Since then, MLB and the players' union have made some changes to collection procedures as a result of Das' decision. Employees of Comprehensive Drug Testing, who take the specimens from players, are now required to drop the samples off at a Federal Express office on the same day they are collected, provided an office is open in the vicinity. If not, collectors should take the specimens home rather than leave them in a drop box. The prohibition against using drop boxes already was in the drug agreement between players and owners. Alfonzo's penalty was dropped without a hearing before an arbitrator, the person said Sunday. The catcher missed the final 15 games of last season and Colorado has already played 33 games this year. Under the major league drug agreement, first offenses are arbitrated before any public announcement -- but additional offenses are litigated after a suspension is announced. Alfonzo also was suspended for 50 games in April 2008 while a member of the San Francisco Giants. "I am surprised by this positive test," he said last September in a statement released by the Major League Baseball Players Association. "I learned my lesson in 2008 and have not taken any prohibited substances since then. With the union's help, I intend to fight this suspension and look forward to appearing before the arbitrator in the near future." After the suspension four years ago, Alfonzo said he never knowingly took steroids but did take medicine for bronchitis while home in Venezuela. Manny Ramirez and Guillermo Mota are the only other major league players to be penalized twice for positive drug tests. Baseball began testing with penalties in 2004. Under the current rules, a third violation would carry a lifetime ban. Alfonzo is a .240 career hitter with 17 homers and 67 RBIs in 591 at-bats over 193 major league games. He has also played for San Diego and Seattle.

Morning Skate: Petersen snubs Sabres, Fleury pens letter to Pittsburgh

Morning Skate: Petersen snubs Sabres, Fleury pens letter to Pittsburgh

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the NHL pre-July 1 wooing period is underway.

 

*Another draft pick has snubbed the team that selected him after their college career, and this time it’s the Buffalo Sabres. 

 

*It’s a shame to see the demise of the CTV sports staff in Montreal. Brian Wilde is a friend and a colleague, and a voice on the Habs that deserved to be heart up in that city. 

 

*In an emotional letter penned to the only NHL city that he’d ever played in, Marc-Andre Fleury has plenty to say about Pittsburgh. 

 

*The Edmonton Oilers and Peter Chiarelli have signed rugged power forward Zack Kassian to a three-year, $5.85 million contract. Interesting risk here for a player that might be a fourth line guy, and has had some issues toeing the line in the past, but Kassian has been pretty effective for the Oil since they stuck out their neck for him. 

 

*Teemu Selanne is a no-brainer for this season’s Hockey Hall of Fame class, and that’s great. But it will be a crime if three-time Stanley Cup champion and high-ranking lifetime scorer Mark Recchi doesn’t finally get into the Hall this season. Seriously, Recchi has the credentials statistically, he has the Stanley Cups, he has the time playing with some of the greatest players of his generation during his NHL career and he also happens to have been a great person and leader on top of all that. If former Bruins winger Recchi doesn’t hear his name announced this season then something is seriously flawed with the process. 

 

*How exactly will the return of Brandon Saad impact both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane over the next few seasons? One would imagine it’s going to be a positive impact. 

 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman thinks that the Columbus Blue Jackets are making a push to be contenders, and will be in the mix for Ilya Kovalchuk. 

 

*Speaking of Blackhawks former Cup champs, Niklas Hjalmarsson is bringing that winning tradition, experience and leadership to the Arizona Coyotes now that he’s been traded. 

 

*For something completely different: What a crazy story this Han Solo movie intrigue has turned into, with reports that the movie’s crew “broke into applause” when it was announced that Ron Howard was taking over direction of the movie. 

Bradley left off NBA's all-defensive teams

Bradley left off NBA's all-defensive teams

BOSTON – Avery Bradley was one of the NBA’s better defenders this past season, even as injuries limited him to just 55 games played. 

The lack of court time may have been a factor in Bradley being left off the NBA’s all-defensive first and second teams which were announced on Monday. 

Bradley, a member of the NBA's all-defensive first team last season, received 12 first-place votes as part of a 46-point voting total which was tops among the players who did not make the first or second team. 

Golden State’s Draymond Green, Utah’s Rudy Gobert and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard were the top three vote-getters, which explains why they are the three finalist for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award which will be announced tonight during the NBA Awards show which begins at 9 p.m. on TNT.

In addition to Green, Gobert and Leonard, the first team also included Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul who was named to his seventh all-NBA defensive team, with this being the sixth straight time being on the first unit. Houston’s Patrick Beverley, a second-team all-NBA defensive selection following the 2013-2014 season, was also named to the first team. 

The second unit included Memphis guard (and former Celtic) Tony Allen, San Antonio’s Danny Green, New Orleans center Anthony Davis with Oklahoma City’s Andre Roberson and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo rounding out the second team. 

In addition to Bradley, other Celtics receiving votes for one of the two all-defensive teams included Marcus Smart (five first-place votes, 21 points total); Jae Crowder (five points total) and Isaiah Thomas (one point total).