Reliever: 'Just clear my name from that word'

Updated: July 15, 2005, 7:42 PM ET
Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians reliever Rafael Betancourt said Friday that while he accepts punishment for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy he will continue his appeal to get the word "steroids" dropped from the official record.

The right-hander was suspended July 8 for 10 days after testing positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance.

"I don't care about the suspension or the money they took," Betancourt said. "Just clear my name from that word."

Betancourt, on the disabled list since June 30 with a shoulder injury, does not dispute testing positive, though he says he has not been told exactly what substance was detected during a mid-May test.

"I was tested twice in 2003, twice last year and nothing," he said. "Now, they say I test positive."

The test could be the result of an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine Betancourt got while pitching winter ball in his native Venezuela.

"I ask myself, 'How did this happen?'" he said. "Back home, I bought some Voltaren -- this is something that anybody can buy, even a 10-year-old kid. After I pitched, I would take one pill."

Betancourt equated the drug to Americans taking Advil or Tylenol. He said that once he got to spring training, he took medicine only prescribed by the Indians.

He did acknowledge that conditions in Venezeula are vastly different.

"Sometimes, I'm afraid to drink the water," he said. "But that is why I am upset. I have always respected this game."

Betancourt has been a key part of the Indians' bullpen, going 2-2 with a 2.21 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings.

He is the sixth player suspended under Major League Baseball's policy, which began in March. There have been 77 players suspended under the minor-league program.

The right-hander will serve the suspension while on the disabled list, and it will cost him $18,503 of his $338,600 salary.

Tampa Bay outfielder Alex Sanchez, Colorado outfielder Jorge Piedra, Texas pitcher Agustin Montero, Seattle outfielder Jamal Strong and Minnesota reliever Juan Rincon were also suspended. Montero and Rincon asked the union to file grievances, but decisions have not yet been made by arbitrator Shyam Das.

Betancourt has no idea when his grievance request will be heard.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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