It was just announced by MLB that Arizona’s young infielder, Domingo Leyba, has been suspended 80 games for violating baseball’s drug policy. Reports indicate that he tested positive for Boldenone. The always reliable Internet informs me that this was “developed for veterinary use, mostly for treatment of horses. It is not indicated for use in humans in the US and is only available through veterinary clinics.” So, quite what it was doing in Leyba’s system would seem to be a very good question. However, our siblings over at Beyond the Box Score wrote about the drug when David Paulino was suspended for a similar test in 2017, so I will defer to the medicinal chemist who authored that piece. He says:
There are better anabolic steroids out there for bulking up, but boldenone is still effective at building lean muscle mass. That is useful for baseball players because it introduces the possibility of gaining strength without looking like the Hulk, which would obviously raise suspicion. Furthermore, remember what I said about the long half-life? That allows for slow and steady muscle gain, so there will not be any spikes in strength that could raise suspicion.
Boldenone would be great for baseball players if it were not for the facts that a) it is against the rules, b) it is easily detectable, and most importantly, c) it shares the same dangerous side effects as other anabolic steroids. In addition to those side effects, it can make users voraciously hungry, and more dangerously, it can stimulate the release of erythropoietin more than other anabolic steroids. Erythropoietin is better known as EPO, and it is well known in the cycling community. Stimulating it is great for anemic people, but not so much for those who are healthy. The increased production of red blood cells can lead to higher blood pressure and risk of heart attack.
It will be interesting to see how the team reacts, given Ken Kendrick’s avowed anti-PED stance. They issued a brief statement, which said “We support MLB’s Joint Drug Agreement and the penalties for violating that policy. We were disappointed to learn of this news and hope that Domingo will take the time away from the game to reflect on his actions and learn from his mistakes.” The player had no comment.
There have been players who have joined the D-backs with prior PED issues, most recently Starling Marte. Indeed, Abraham Almonte, who played seventeen games for the D-backs last year, was busted for the very same substance in 2016. But I can’t remember any previous active Diamondbacks failing a PED test. You’d have to go back to the dark days of Jason Grimsley to find a player on the team with a contemporary PED connection. Leyba played 21 games for Arizona last season, and was certainly in the mix for a spot on the Opening Day roster. Now, that won’t be happening until well into the season.