Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Eagles’ Japhet Amador banned six months for doping

by Jason Coskrey

Staff Writer

Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles infielder Japhet Amador has been suspended for six months after testing positive for banned substances, Nippon Professional Baseball announced Thursday afternoon.

Amador’s suspension began the same day and will last until Feb. 8, 2019.

According to NPB, Amador was tested following a game against the Chunichi Dragons on June 13, in Sendai. His sample came back positive for chlorthalidone and furosemide on June 23. The two substances are included under diuretics and masking agents on a list of prohibited drugs on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s website.

Amador was given a chance to defend himself in a meeting with the league on June 30. While he denied intentionally taking any banned substance, he did not dispute the findings, NPB said in its statement. The sample was tested again Aug. 1, at Amador’s request, and the results came back the same.

“I have never committed an act of doping in my baseball life up to this point,” Amador said in a statement released by the Eagles. “I have never intentionally taken any banned drugs.

“I haven’t used stimulants or anything to increase muscle, or thought about using diuretics or masking agents. I’ve been given many doping tests in the past and they’ve all been negative.”

Amador said he didn’t know the reason for the positive test.

“I’m very surprised my test was positive,” he said. “I have an uneasy feeling because I have no idea what the reason could be. I will cooperate with NPB to find out why this happened. I apologize to everyone concerned.”

Amador played in 62 games for Rakuten this season and had a .269 average and 20 home runs, tied for sixth most in the Pacific League, and 42 RBIs. The Mexican slugger was beginning to heat up, having hit .291 with 11 homers since July 1.

Amador, 31, joined the club during the 2016 season and has hit 52 home runs in 222 NPB games, including 23 last season.

He is the fifth player to test positive for a banned substance in Japanese baseball.

The last case occurred in 2011, and involved Hirokazu Ibata, an infielder for the Chunichi Dragons who tested positive because of a substance in his eye medication. Ibata had previously been granted permission to take the medicine, but had not filed an extension at the time of his positive test. He was given a warning after an NPB investigation.

The other three cases involved Rick Guttormson of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2007, the Yomiuri Giants’ Luis Gonzalez in 2008 and the Tokyo Yakult Swallows’ Daniel Rios, also in 2008. Guttormson, said the banned substance was in hair growth medicine he had been using and was given a 20-game suspension. Gonzalez and Rios were each suspended for a year, and were both released soon after.

“We’ve been raising awareness of anti-doping activities through rookie workshops and information briefings during spring camp,” NPB commissioner Atsushi Saito said in a statement in his role as chairman of the committee involved in NPB’s anti-doping investigations and rulings. “I would like to keep anti-doping awareness high among the players as well as the teams.”