Jenrry Mejia, who became the first player to receive a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball for performance-enhancing drug use during his time with the New York Mets, stated Thursday he believes league officials conspired against him.
Ben Berkon of the New York Times passed along comments the relief pitcher made about the situation through an interpreter. He said MLB officials pressured him after the second failed test and requested information about his "doping connections."
Mejia said that baseball officials told him that if he appealed the punishment for the second doping offense, "they will find a way to find a third positive," Mejia said through an interpreter. "I felt there was a conspiracy against me. I feel that they were trying to find something to bring me down in my career."
He also felt let down by the MLB Players Association, adding it "should have been there to defend me—because that's what they're there for. They should have found something to appeal for."
League spokesman Pat Courtney told the New York Times the conversations Mejia alludes to never took place.
"No one at MLB or representing MLB has met with Mejia regarding any of these drug violations," he said
Although it's considered a permanent suspension, Mejia can apply for reinstatement next year.
Adam Rubin of ESPN.com noted the reliever can ask Commissioner Rob Manfred for a chance to return. If he does get reinstated, though, he must sit out two years before he's allowed to pitch again. If the request is denied, he can appeal to an arbitrator to make a ruling.
Mejia made 113 appearances (18 starts) for the Mets since the start of 2010. He posted a 3.68 ERA and 1.48 WHIP with 162 strikeouts in 183.1 innings. He pitched 7.1 scoreless innings in between suspensions last season.
The 26-year-old Dominican Republic native has retained lawyer Vincent White, who explained to the New York Times they are considering their legal options.
"For us, this is a collective bargaining issue, this is a labor issue, this is an employer who we see perhaps overstepping," White said.
Meanwhile, the Mets have started preparing for the new season without Mejia. The final bullpen spots will be filled after a crowded battle throughout spring training.
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