Ryan Braun Tests Positive for PEDs: 10 Other Cheaters We Never Expected Exposed
In a week of shocking moves, like Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle signing with the Marlins and Albert Pujols signing with the Angels out of nowhere, the biggest and most surprising news has just broken. That news is that Ryan Braun, the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player and one of the most respected players in the game both on and off the field, has tested positive for performance enhancing drugs—or PEDs.
While almost no one expects a current big leaguer to test positive, especially considering the testing policy has such strict penalties, for a player of this caliber to fail the test is simply shocking news.
This article takes a look at 10 other players who have been exposed as cheaters that surprised everyone. Obviously the Mark McGwires and Barry Bonds of the world will not be included, as those players aren't surprising like the players on this list.
Alex Rodriguez reached the major leagues for good in 1996, and as a 20-year-old shortstop he won the batting title with a .358 average as well as leading the league with 54 doubles to go with 36 homers and 123 runs batted in.
Rodriguez was selected with the first overall pick in the 1993 MLB Draft because he was considered to be a once in a generation type of talent. After posting big numbers on a yearly basis, Rodriguez proved to be exactly what the Mariners had hoped he would become with few holes in his game.
While Rodriguez was rumored to be on steroids after Jose Canseco made accusations in 2007, many looked past it considering Canseco was trying to sell books. Then came a 2009 Sports Illustrated article which claimed he failed tests for PEDs in 2003, after which Rodriguez admitted his use.
Despite rumors, the 2009 news was still surprising as Rodriguez was looked at by many fans as an amazing natural talent. The fact that he used PEDs between 2001 and 2003 was a surprise considering what he was able to do on his own before the use of the drugs.
JC Romero, a journey-man middle relief pitcher who has spent time with the Twins, Phillies, Red Sox, Angels and Rockies is easily among the most surprising Major League ballplayers to fail a drug test for PEDs.
Romero failed a test in late-August of 2008, but appealed his failed test while he claimed that two nutritionists had approved his supplement. However that supplement contained the drug known as andro—what Mark McGwire used in the late 1990's before it became a banned substance. Due to his appeal he was allowed to pitch in the postseason that year and start his 50-game suspension in 2009, important because he made eight scoreless appearances as the Phillies went in to win the World Series that year.
Romero's use of PEDs may have been accidental as claimed, but either way it's clear that he cheated. The fact that his career really only took off in 2007, despite being in the league since 1999, makes it tough to really believe him.
Roger Clemens was one of the best pitchers in baseball between 1985 and 1992, winning a total of three Cy Young Awards during that time. The Boston ace was at the top until his career hit a rough patch in 1993 that lasted through 1996, until he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays.
After signing with the Blue Jays for the 1997 season Clemens became one of the top pitchers in the game again. He went on to win another four Cy Young Awards, including two in Toronto, one with the Yankees and another with Houston. The flame-throwing right-hander became one of the best again because of his famed workout routine.
Like with Rodriguez, Clemens was an accused PED user by Jose Canseco, but Clemens was also famous for an intense military-style workout. People were under the impression that this workout was what brought Clemens back to the top of his game, but that changed after the Mitchell Report. According to the Mitchell Report on PEDs, former teammate Jason Grimsley turned in Clemens as a PED user.
The Clemens news was a surprise to fans as Clemens had such a long history of being among the best pitchers in the game, may have been among the hardest working players in the game and was the first true elite pitcher accused.
Rafael Palmeiro is one of the more controversial figures in the Steroid Era. After being named in Jose Canseco's book as a PED user, and for being someone that Canseco personally injected with steroids, Palmeiro took a big step. That step was in March of 2005 when he appeared in front of Congress, and under oath he denied ever using steroids.
Then in August of 2005, Palmeiro was suspended for testing positive for PEDs. The news was surprising because at that time it was believed that Canseco made false claims in his book, and he went to such lengths to deny using PEDs.
That failed test came just shortly after Palmeiro reached his 3,000th career hit. It also may have contributed to his career ending following the 2005 season, as his contract expired and no one signed him. Now it appears that the failed PED test is likely to keep him out of the Hall of Fame, despite 3,020 hits and 569 homers.
Mike Cameron is here for a different type of PED. Everyone else on this list has either been associated with steroids or human growth hormone, but Cameron's substance was stimulants. It was following a second failed test for stimulants that Cameron was outed as a PED user, as players names aren't given out after a single failed test for this substance. Cameron denied intentionally using stimulants after the second failed test.
The three-time Gold Glove Award winner also isn't the type of player one would associate with PEDs. Cameron is more of a strong fielding, athletic center fielder with solid power instead of being a true slugger.
While Cameron's offense isn't on the same level as the rest of the guys on the list, the fact is he was caught failing PED tests twice. That shows that he's a known cheater.
Manny Ramirez was one of the most feared hitters in the game from 1995 through the 2008 season. Though on defense he seemed to not really care at times, Ramirez was like a machine at the plate. It seemed like Ramirez was capable of driving in runs anytime he was up, and he usually did come up with clutch hits.
Ramirez was named to the list of 104 players to fail a PED test in 2003, but that information didn't become public until years later. When that information did become public, people were pretty surprised in part because he seemed to not care much about the game. Ramirez was also a surprise as he wasn't thought of as a player that would have needed the extra help from PEDs.
The failed drug tests in 2009 and 2011 which have followed have only proven that Manny is one of the worst PED offenders out there. Instead of facing a 100-game suspension following the second failed PED test under the new guidelines, Ramirez simply retired. Within the last week he decided to return to the game in 2012 and has appealed to cut his suspension to 50 games.
When then-Braves prospect Jordan Schafer tested positive for using PEDs in 2008, it was a precedent setting failed drug test. At that time, Schafer was one of the Top 25 prospects in the game according to Baseball America, and was just beginning his season in Double-A after a breakout season in 2007. After the Schafer news broke, there ended up being an article written in Sports Illustrated about him, as this was totally unexpected.
While other prospects had tested positive under the new Minor League PED testing policy, most of those had been lower level Latin American prospects. Since Latin American prospects are known to take PEDs as young teenagers at the direction of trainers helping to get them signed but caring little about the risks, those PED test failures aren't surprising.
Schafer, now with the Astros, was the first real prospect to test positive for PEDs, and considering he was already in the upper levels of the minors this wasn't really expected. As if that alone isn't surprising enough, the fact that he's a speedy leadoff hitter without significant power makes this even more surprising.
Wally Joyner was a journey-man first baseman who played for a total of five teams between 1986 and 2001. Over his 16-season career he hit .289 with 204 homers, solid but unspectacular numbers. Those numbers look even less impressive when you compare them to the league average for his position.
In a 2005 interview with ESPN the Magazine, Joyner admitted that he used PEDs during his career. Joyner claims to have obtained the drugs from the late Ken Caminiti, one of the guys directly at the center of the PED controversy. While Joyner only stayed on the drugs for a short time, he still used them.
Joyner claims he used them because he was a 36-year-old at the end of his career, and was just trying to hang on a little longer. The fact that he confessed and he only used the PEDs for a short time is a different response than that of others, but he is still one of the more surprising names to be included on the Mitchell Report.
Over the course of a 14-year career, Paul Byrd won a total of 109 games including three seasons where he won at least 15 games. Byrd also spent a few seasons as a reliever, making a total of 89 relief appearances. Overall it was a solid, but unspectacular career.
Byrd was known as a pitcher who had success because he knew how to pitch as well as throwing some deceptive pitcher. His fastball wasn't a very impressive pitch, as it only reached the low 90's. That makes him not really fit the profile of a PED user.
In October 2007 the San Francisco Chronicle broke a story accusing Byrd of buying human growth hormone. Byrd denied using the drugs as PEDs, instead claiming that they were to treat a tumor. It has since been proven that Byrd was taking the PEDs prior to being diagnosed with the tumor, and that the drugs were prescribed by a Florida dentist who has had his license to practice suspended for fraud.
Prior to the news on Ryan Braun breaking today, the most shocking to be exposed for using PEDs was Andy Pettitte. The former Yankee star pitcher, who won 240 games in his career, was considered to be one of the more respected players in the game both on and off the field.
When the news on Pettitte broke it caught the baseball world by surprise, even though it was still during the end of the Steroid Era. Pettitte using PEDs was also a surprise because of the type of pitcher he was, as he was more of a smart left-handed pitcher than an over-powering pitcher.
What Pettitte did after news broke that he used PEDs—calling a press conference to admit his use and give everyone watching a sincere apology, was the type of classy move one would expect from him. It's also the reason that it seems fans were able to somewhat forget about the fact Pettitte used PEDs—something that hasn't really happened with other players proven to have used the drugs.