Lawton becomes 12th suspended for steroids

Updated: November 2, 2005, 6:16 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Former All-Star outfielder Matt Lawton was suspended Wednesday for a positive steroids test, becoming the 12th player penalized for violating Major League Baseball's policy.

Suspensions for Testing Positive
For Banned Substance
Date Player Team
Nov. 2 Matt Lawton, OF Yankees
Oct. 18 Felix Heredia, LHP Mets
Oct. 4 Carlos Almanzar, RHP Rangers
Sept. 7 Michael Morse, SS Mariners
Aug. 2 Ryan Franklin, P Mariners
Aug. 1 Rafael Palmiero, 1B Orioles
July 8 Rafael Betancourt, P Indians
May 2 Juan Rincon, P Twins
April 26 Jamal Strong, OF Mariners
April 20 Agustin Montero, P Rangers
April 11 Jorge Piedra, OF Rockies
April 4 Alex Sanchez, OF Devil Rays

Lawton, acquired by the Yankees from the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 27 and then left off New York's postseason roster, became a free agent last Thursday. He would serve a 10-day suspension at the start of next season.

"I made a terrible and foolish mistake that I will regret for the rest of my life," Lawton said in a statement that he read over the telephone to The Associated Press. "I take full responsibility for my actions and did not appeal my suspension. I apologize to the fans, the game, my family and all those people that I let down. I am truly sorry and deeply regret my terrible lapse in judgment."

Lawton said the positive test occurred after he was acquired by the Yankees but did not answer other questions.

The substance he tested positive for was boldenone, a person familiar with the tests results said, speaking on condition of anonymity because drug-test results in baseball are supposed to remain secret.

"It's a veterinary steroid. I think it's primarily used in horses," Dr. Gary Wadler, a professor of sports medicine at New York University and an expert on performance-enhancing drugs. "It's used like any other anabolic steroid. It's basically injectable."

When baseball conducted anonymous survey testing in 2003, there were five positive tests for boldenone, baseball executive vice president Rob Manfred said earlier this year. Paralympic powerlifter Darrell Tyrone Banks was suspended for two years last November by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency following a positive test for boldenone.

Wadler said the steroid also was available under the name equipoise.

An All-Star with Minnesota in 2000 and Cleveland in 2004, Lawton hit a combined .254 with 13 homers and 53 RBI this season for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cubs and Yankees. He turns 34 on Thursday.

With the Yankees, he batted .125 (6-for-48) with two homers and four RBIs, hitting a key two-run homer in a 2-1 victory over Baltimore on Sept. 21. Lawton has a .267 career average with 138 homers, 165 steals and 630 RBI in 11 major league seasons.

His positive test was the third announced by the commissioner's office since the end of the regular season, following those of Texas pitcher Carlos Almanzar and New York Mets pitcher Felix Heredia.

Players and owners, under pressure from congressmen, are attempting to negotiate a new steroids agreement with harsher penalties. Under legislation proposed Tuesday by Sens. Jim Bunning and John McCain, a first positive test would result in a two-year suspension.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig proposed in April that an initial positive for steroids result in a 50-game suspension.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press